Infection Prevention Measures for Surgical Teams

prevention measures for surgical teams

Infection Prevention Measures for Surgical Teams

Infection prevention is of paramount importance in surgical settings, as surgical site infections can lead to severe complications, prolonged hospital stays, and increased healthcare costs. Implementing appropriate strategies can significantly reduce the risk of infections and improve patient outcomes. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the key infection prevention measures that surgical teams need to take to ensure patient safety and minimize the occurrence of surgical site infections.

Understanding the Impact of Surgical Site Infections

prevention measures for surgical teams

Surgical site infections can have serious consequences for patients, including prolonged hospital stays, increased morbidity and mortality rates, and higher healthcare costs. Studies have shown that approximately 0.5% to 3% of patients undergoing surgery will experience an infection at or near the surgical incision site. Furthermore, patients with surgical site infections are hospitalized for an additional 7 to 11 days compared to those without infections.

This extended hospitalization not only adds financial strain but also exposes patients to additional risks associated with prolonged immobilization, such as thromboembolic events. Therefore, understanding and mitigating the multifaceted impacts of SSIs is crucial not only for individual patient outcomes but also for the broader landscape of healthcare delivery and resource utilization.

Factors Contributing to Surgical Site Infections

Surgical site infections (SSIs) result from a mix of factors that can make things complicated after surgery. Essentially, SSIs occur when the patient’s own bacteria enter the surgical site during the procedure. Picture it like this: during surgery, there’s a chance for bacteria from the patient’s body to sneak into the sterile area, causing contamination and possible infection. But that’s not all – there are other things that crank up the risk of SSIs. Surgical teams need to get a good handle on these factors. One biggie is the health of the patient’s immune system – if it’s not in top shape, the risk of infection shoots up.

Then there’s the matter of foreign materials, like implants or prosthetics, which may increase the risk of an SSI. These materials can become a cozy home for bacteria, making infection more likely. And don’t forget about the level of bacterial contamination; it’s crucial to be super careful during surgery to keep things sterile. Surgical teams know how important it is to use antibiotics wisely. Antibiotics are like superheroes fighting off bacteria, but if we use them too much, the bacteria can become resistant. So, surgical teams have to be smart about it, finding the right balance and tailoring antibiotic use to each surgery and patient. In a nutshell, preventing SSIs is like a well-choreographed dance for surgical teams – they need to know the moves and be aware of the risks to keep patients infection-free.

Recommended Strategies for Infection Prevention

International organizations have recommended numerous strategies to decrease the incidence of surgical site infections. However, only six general strategies have been supported by randomized trials, providing substantial evidence of their effectiveness. These strategies include:

Avoiding the Use of Razors for Hair Removal

Studies have shown that using clippers instead of razors for hair removal can significantly reduce the risk of surgical site infections. Razors can cause micro cuts on the skin, providing an entry point for bacteria.

Decolonization With Antistaphylococcal Agents

Patients undergoing high-risk procedures such as cardiothoracic, may benefit from decolonization with intranasal antistaphylococcal agents and antistaphylococcal skin antiseptics. This measure has been shown to reduce the incidence of surgical site infections.

Use of Chlorhexidine Gluconate and Alcohol-Based Skin Preparation

Preoperative skin preparation with chlorhexidine gluconate and alcohol has been found to be more effective in reducing surgical site infections compared to povidone-iodine plus alcohol preparation.

Maintaining Normothermia

Active warming measures, such as warmed intravenous fluids, skin warming, and warm forced air, should be employed to maintain the patient’s body temperature above 96.8 degrees Fahrenheit. Hypothermia has been associated with an increased risk of surgical site infections. Studies have shown that warming a patient for 30 minutes prior to surgery lowered intraoperative hypothermia. Therefore, consider preoperative and intraoperative warming to reduce SSI rates and other complications such as blood loss.

Perioperative Glycemic Control

Maintaining perioperative glucose concentrations below 150 mg/dL has been shown to reduce the incidence of surgical site infections. Close monitoring and appropriate management of blood glucose levels are essential in preventing infections.

Use of Negative Pressure Wound Therapy

Negative pressure wound therapy has been shown to be effective in reducing the risk of surgical site infections. This technique involves the application of a vacuum dressing to the wound, promoting wound healing and reducing bacterial contamination.

The Global Burden of Surgical Site Infections

Surgical site infections are not limited to specific regions or countries. They pose a significant global burden, threatening the lives of millions of patients each year and contributing to the spread of antibiotic resistance. In low- and middle-income countries, the infection rate among surgical patients can be as high as 11%. Even in high-income countries like the United States, surgical site infections result in additional hospital stays and substantial healthcare costs.

Prevention in Ambulatory Surgery Centers

Infection prevention measures are not exclusive to hospital settings. Ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) also play a crucial role in preventing surgical site infections. It requires a collaborative effort from ASC leaders, caregivers, patients, and families to ensure patient safety and minimize the risk of infections. The implementation of guidelines and the use of educational tools can significantly contribute to infection prevention in ASCs.

Infection prevention measures become even more critical during outbreaks of infectious diseases. The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak in South Korea highlighted the importance of having robust infection prevention protocols in place for surgical teams. Temporary negative-pressure operating rooms were set up to prevent the spread of the MERS coronavirus (MERS-CoV) during surgeries. Strict adherence to guidelines, proper equipment preparation, and disinfection were essential in minimizing the risk of infections.

Taking Action for Infection Prevention

prevention measures for surgical teams

Infection prevention is a multifaceted endeavor that requires the commitment and collaboration of surgical teams, healthcare organizations, and policymakers. By implementing evidence-based strategies, adhering to guidelines, and prioritizing patient safety, surgical teams can significantly reduce the incidence of surgical site infections. It is crucial to stay updated with the latest research and guidelines in infection prevention to ensure the best possible outcomes for patients.

At Infection Control Results, we are dedicated to providing comprehensive solutions for infection prevention in surgical settings. Our team of experts can assist healthcare organizations in developing and implementing effective infection prevention programs. Contact Infection Control Results today to learn how we can support your efforts to ensure patient safety and minimize the risk of surgical site infections.