How Hospitals are Cutting SSI Rates

Sandra Gittlen, October 8, 2015

Leading healthcare organizations are addressing surgical site infections through standardization, analysis, and information integration.

This article appears in the September 2015 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

As the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services begins tying surgical site infections to value-based purchasing and other programs, healthcare organizations could experience an impact on reimbursements. But surgeons tasked with lowering SSI rates say monetary penalties are the least of their concerns.

"Honestly, as surgeons, we don't care about an institutional number we're trying to hit. We're the ones seeing the patient with the wound infection, and when they are in front of us, it's 100% a problem," says Mark Lane Welton, MD, MHCM, chief of staff and chief of colorectal surgery at Stanford Hospital, a 613-licensed-bed facility with 49 operating rooms based in California.

SSIs, which occur in 2%–5% of patients undergoing inpatient surgery, can lead to prolonged stays, additional surgeries, additional courses of IV antibiotics, disability among patients, and even mortality. SSIs also create tremendous cost, up to $10 billion annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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