From the Journals

Hospital safety program curbs surgical site infections



Surgical site infections among colorectal surgery patients in Hawaii decreased by approximately 62% after hospital participation in a national safety program.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) designed the program to reduce surgical site infections (SSIs), which are harmful to patients and expensive for the health care system, wrote Della M. Lin, MD, of Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, and the department of surgery at the University of Hawaii, Honolulu, and her colleagues.

In a study published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, the researchers reviewed data from a statewide intervention conducted at 15 hospitals in Hawaii from January 2013 to June 2015. The intervention included the Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program and individualized interventions for each hospital to help reduce SSIs. The primary outcome was the number of colorectal SSIs. A secondary outcome of hospital safety culture was assessed using the AHRQ Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture. The participating hospitals ranged from a 25-bed critical-access hospital to a 533-bed academic medical center.

Overall, the colorectal SSI rate decreased significantly (from 12% to 5%) from the first quarter of 2013 to the second quarter of 2015, with a significant linear decrease over the study period. The rate of superficial SSIs decreased significantly, falling from 8% to 3%. However, the rate of deep SSIs was not significantly different before and after the intervention program (2% vs. 0%), nor was the organ space SSI rate (3% vs. 2%). The standardized infection ratio decreased from 1.83 to 0.92.

The culture of safety in the hospitals improved, but more modestly, in 10 of 12 areas that were measured over the study period.

The overall perception of patient safety improved from 49% to 53%, teamwork across different units improved from 49% to 54%, management and support for patient safety improved from 53% to 60%, and nonpunitive response to errors improved from 36% to 40%.

In addition, communication and openness improved from 50% to 53%, frequency of reported events improved from 51% to 60%, feedback and communication about errors improved from 52% to 59%, organizational learning and continuous improvement increased from 59% to 70%, teamwork within units improved from 68% to 75%, and expectations and actions by supervisors and managers to promote safety improved from 58% to 64%. Staff responses reflect agreement on improvement in the areas of issues of communication, feedback mechanisms, and teamwork, but the change in culture was not on the order of the SSI change.


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