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Reducing Surgical Site Infections at a Pediatric Academic Medical Center

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Background: Surgical site infections (SSIs) remain a substantial cause of morbidity, mortality, increased length of stay, and increased hospital costs. Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC) used reliability science to dramatically reduce the rate of surgical site infections.

Methods: Key activities included the development and implementation of strategies to enhance the proportion of patients who receive timely antibiotic administration, a pediatric surgical site infection–prevention bundle, and procedure-specific pediatric surgical site infection–prevention bundles. Measures are presented in monthly reports and annotated control charts that are shared with the improvement team and organizational leadership and that are also posted on the hospital's patient safety intranet site.

Results: The Class I and II SSI rate decreased from 1.5 per 100 procedure days at baseline to 0.54 per 100 procedure days, a 64% reduction. The process has remained stable (within control limits) since August 2007. There were 33 fewer surgical site infections in fiscal year (FY) 2006 than in FY 2005, and 21 fewer in FY 2007 than in FY 2006. By December 2007, 91% of eligible same-day surgery patients received antibiotics within 60 minutes before a procedure, and 94% of patients undergoing inpatient surgery received antibiotics within 60 minutes prior to incision.

Discussion: Pediatric surgical patients can now expect a safer, more efficient experience with CCHMC's care system and reduced variation in care across CCHMC's surgeons and procedures. Sharing data on individual and collective provider performance was important in recruiting provider support. Examining data on any failures each day allowed assessment and correction, facilitating rapid-cycle improvement. Making the right thing to do the easy thing to do facilitated the behavior changes required.

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Publication date: April 1, 2009

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  • Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

    David W. Baker, MD, MPH, FACP, executive vice president for the Division of Healthcare Quality Evaluation at The Joint Commission, is the inaugural editor-in-chief of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

    Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
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