Surgical Site Infections Persist, But Why?

Cheryl Clark, May 31, 2012

Johns Hopkins physician-researcher Nauder Faraday, MD, this week said out loud what I bet many quality chiefs have been saying about surgical site infections, perhaps in between muttered curses, for quite some time.

He said there's little chance hospitals can consistently drive down infection rates to that elusive zerono matter how hard they try—and many are trying very, very hard.  That's because, he says, there are other factors in play beyond a hospital's control, and scientists and doctors are so far clueless as to what those might be. 

Some patients get infected, and some patients don't.

Therefore, he says, it's inappropriate for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to impose financial penalties, as it now does, by refusing to pay for additional care required when certain surgical procedures transmit a bug into a surgical cavity.

I don't agree with Faraday that the penalty, which has been in effect since October 1, is misguided. On the contrary, it has succeeded in putting fire under the feet of hospital teams and the surgeons who work there to take a hard look at their surgical processes, and even at how the patient is cared for at home.


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