Surgical patient safety program cuts infections by 33%

A patient safety program that combines accurate outcome measurement, support from hospital leadership and engaged frontline providers reduced surgical site infections by 33 percent in patients undergoing colorectal procedures, according to a new study published in the August Journal of the American College of Surgeons. Occurring in 15 percent to 30 percent of patients after colorectal operations, surgical site infections traditionally have been difficult to prevent, according to yesterday's research announcement.

Using a pilot study protocol set by the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program, Johns Hopkins Hospital implemented a comprehensive unit-based safety program (CUSP), a five-step strategy that empowers frontline staff like nurses and medical techs to identify problems in the operating room, such as antibiotic selection and dosing, skin preparation, maintenance of normal body temperature and intra-operative sterile techniques. After a year, researchers found that the overall surgical site infection rate dropped from 27.3 percent to 18.2 percent. Study abstract