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34 Ways to Stop Colorectal Surgery Infections

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, December 3, 2012

When a seven-hospital collaboration tackled colorectal surgical site infections—the second most common type of SSI—the rates dropped 32%, from 15.8% of patients to 10.7%, and the average length of stay for an infected patient fell from 15 to 13 days.

These hospitals discovered 34 factors that increased the risk of failure and then devised solutions, saving the seven hospitals approximately $3.7 million in care, medication, and other avoided costs. A non-infected colorectal surgical patient usually stays in the hospital about eight days.

"These improvements represent victories for patients, caregivers, and healthcare as a whole, and are an example of how preventing complications like surgical site infections can save money," says Mark Chassin, MD, president of the Joint Commission, which partnered with the American College of Surgeons to create the Center for Transforming Healthcare’s Surgical Site Infection Project.

"In the period before the interventions took effect, there were 420 surgical site infections among sampled patients at all seven hospitals," Chassin says. With the 32% reduction, the seven participating hospitals were able to avoid 135 surgical site infections after all the solutions were implemented. The project began in March, 2009, and ended in September, 2012.

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