It is estimated that healthcare associated infections (HAI) account for 1.7 million infections and 99,000 associated deaths each year, with annual direct medical costs of up to $45 billion. Surgical Site Infections (SSI) account for 17% of HAIs, an estimated annual cost of $3.5 to 10 billion for our country alone. This project was designed to pursue elimination of SSIs and document results.
Starting in 2009 a program to eliminate SSIs was undertaken at a nationally recognized academic health center. Interventions already outlined by CMS and IHI were utilized, along with additional interventions based on literature showing relationships with SSI reduction and best practices. Rapid deployment of multiple interventions (SSI Bundle) was undertaken. Tactics included standardized order sets, a centralized preoperative evaluation (POE) clinic, high compliance with intraoperative interventions, and widespread monthly reporting of compliance and results. Data from 2008 to 2010 were collected and analyzed.
Between May 1, 2008 and June 30, 2010, all patients with Class I and Class II wounds were tracked for SSIs. Baseline data (May–June 2008) was obtained showing a Class I surgical site infection rate of 1.78%, Class II of 2.82% (total surgical volume: 4160 cases). As of the second quarter 2010, those rates have dropped to 0.51% and 1.44%, respectively (P < 0.001 and P = 0.013; total surgical cases: 2826). This represents a 57% decrease in the SSI rate with an estimated institution specific cost savings of nearly $1 million during the study period.
Committed leadership, aggressive assurance of high compliance with multiple known interventions (SSI Bundle), transparency to achieve high levels of staff engagement, and centralization of critical surgical activities result in significant declines in SSIs with resulting substantial cost savings.