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How Planned Collaborative Efforts Can Decrease Surgical Site Infection Rates


A multi-center study(1) involving over 56 hospitals in 50 American states and U.S. territories in 2002-2003 clearly presented that systematic, collaborative efforts can significantly decrease surgical site infections. As a major preventable cause of morbidity and mortality in most hospitals, surgical site infections occur in an estimated 780,000 procedures each year. Although the number of infections following minor procedures such as intravenous line placements and simple outpatient procedures often tend to be underestimated, the results can be equally disastrous in the elderly and immune compromised.

By meticulously adopting proven techniques to cut down on surgically acquired infections, infections rates fell by a full 27% during the period of this study. Although this study focused mainly on the use of antibiotics for prophylaxis, other studies have looked at many other aspects. A key 2001 report "Making health care safer: a critical analysis of patient safety practices" by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality(2) found that evidence in favor of the appropriate use of antibiotic prophylaxis in surgical patients and the use of maximal sterile barriers during the placement of central venous catheters was overwhelming.

More recently, strong support for a collaborative model in combating hospital acquired infections demonstrated as much as an 85% decline in MRSA infection rates(3). Simple measures, such as those used in Northern Europe and included swabbing patients and healthcare workers for MRSA, meticulous barrier methods and hand washing, proved to be highly effective in the North American context. Of the two million hospital acquired infections in the USA every year, nearly 70% are resistant to antibiotics. As a result, collaborative efforts are the only practical methods to deal with this crisis of epidemic proportions.



(1) http://www.ahqa.org/pub/media/159_678_5198.cfm

(2) Making health care safer: a critical analysis of patient safety practices. Evid Rep Technol Assess (Summ) 2001;43:1-668.

(3) http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0NUZ/is_12_12/ai_n15932704


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