Yale Medicine takes aggressive approach against superbugs

Yale Medicine has been focused on controlling the number of infections that occur near surgical incisions.

Fearful of the continual rise of “superbug” infections that are resistant to antibiotics, Yale Medicine has focused on reducing the number of infections that occur at the site of surgical incisions.

Hospital-acquired infections have become more problematic in recent years due to an increase in the number of antibiotic-resistant infections from bacteria such as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that about one in 25 hospital patients winds up contracting an infection connected to their stay.

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The Yale initiative includes attention to minor details that have been routine parts of surgeries for decades. For example, shaving of body parts prior to surgery is now avoided, since nicks and abrasions can spread bacteria. Patients are also kept warmer during procedures, because colder body temperatures can make them more susceptible to infection.

So far the initiative has been a success, according to Yale Medicine. The infection rate among hysterectomy patients last year at Yale New Haven Hospital was 14% lower than the average for a healthcare system its size.

Yale is also closely monitoring its infection rates in proportion to the national average to create specific performance benchmarks. And its medical staff is also carefully selecting antibiotics for patients during and after surgery.

“We want to make sure we provide antibiotics so our patients are protected all the way through their surgeries. But we need to be very careful and cautious,” infectious disease specialist Richard Martinello, M.D., told Yale Medicine. For the most part, patients receive about one of a dozen so-called workhorse antibiotics.