Chair Files

Preventing Infection after Surgery

Only a small percentage of patients develop a health care-associated infection after surgery, and it is estimated that about half of such infections are preventable. West Valley Medical Center, a 150-bed community hospital in Caldwell, Idaho, participates in STOP SSIs—Study to Optimally Prevent Surgical Site Infections—an Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality-funded initiative supported by the Joint Commission, University of Iowa, HCA and a panel of experts. At WVMC, the project focuses on evaluating whether following a bundle of evidence-based processes—an algorithm—will reduce the number of SSIs caused by organisms like Staphylococcus aureus. As part of that project, these processes are aimed at decreasing infections after total hip and total knee surgeries. A multidisciplinary team with members from many hospital units—orthopedics, lab, pharmacy, medical surgical, coronary care, operating room and emergency room—worked to develop a STOP SSI protocol and to educate staff and patients. Based on whether patients test positive or negative for MSSA or MRSA, they receive a preoperative checklist and instructions for bathing with chlorhexidine gluconate before surgery. The STOP SSI protocol is added to patients’ charts and follows them from pre-surgery through discharge. To monitor processes and sustain improvement, the hospital team completes compliance checks and participates on coaching calls each month. Since June 1, 2012, when WVMC implemented the STOP SSI algorithm, only one minor infection has been reported in 229 procedures.
For more information, contact Ginna Maggard, infection prevention, at houses many resources from AHA and other health groups. Read the case studies and other guides.


Additional Resources

Webinars December 13th, 2017

Equity of Care Webinar SeriesPart 2: Aligning Diversity and Inclusion, Community Engagement, Busi......

Webinars November 20th, 2017

Equity of Care Webinar SeriesPart 1: Aligning Diversity and Inclusion, Community Engagement, Busi......

Webinars November 17th, 2017

Transportation and the Role of Hospitals This AHA webinar on “Transportation and the Role of Hos......