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Surgical Site Infections Persist, But Why?

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, May 31, 2012

'Challenging to understand'
However, Faraday makes an extremely important point that we need to know much more about the pathophysiology of infectious disease in surgical settings. And whether some people's genetic profiles are just unlucky.

"The thing that's challenging to understand, what makes it difficult for me, is that we see these cases all the time where it looks like everything has gone the same way, every (protocol) was followed, and yet why did this one in 20 or one in 100 patients get infected? It's very disturbing. And just saying something went wrong at the time of surgery clearly isn't the full answer."

Surgical site infections are terrible, I am well aware, indeed from witnessing horrifying experiences among a few friends. Nationally, researchers estimate there are 1.7 million healthcare-associated infections and 99,000 deaths each year, and 17% of those are due to surgical site infections.

Surgical site infections alone are estimated to cost $3.5 billion to $10 billion a year in healthcare costs. So it seems this would certainly be a place where research dollars would be well spent.


Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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1 comments on "Surgical Site Infections Persist, But Why?"


Paula Forte (5/31/2012 at 3:51 PM)
Your author asks, if we found vulnerable DNA, "Would we do more prep work than we do now? Keep these patients in the hospital longer? Not allow them to have surgery?" We don't have the DNA test to prove vulnerability to SSIs but we do know when our patients are poor surgical risks. For them we DO delay surgery and work with them and their faimilies in a specialty clinc (sometimes for up to a year) to build protein stores, pulmonary function, etc. in order to enhance their outcomes (and ours) when surgery is performed. We are not to zero yet, but for our population which is already high risk, thanks to incredible vigilance on many clinician's part, we beat the NHSN benchmark most quarters.