A collaborative project between hospitals and quality improvement organizations cut the infection rate for selected surgeries by about 27%, to 1.7% from 2.3%, according to an article published today in the American Journal of Surgery. The effort, called the National Surgical Infection Prevention Collaborative, centered on improving the way antibiotics are administered. The project also promoted the control of glucose levels, avoidance of hypothermia, use of supplementary oxygen, and an emphasis on clipping -- rather than shaving -- hair on the surgery site.
The project was conducted during a one-year period beginning in March 2002 and included more than 35,000 patients, with 44 of the 56 participating hospitals able to report results for the article. Hospitals were allowed to determine individually which type of surgery to focus on for improvement, so hospital-to-hospital comparisons couldn't be made, according to the journal article. Qualis Health, the QIO for Alaska, Idaho and Washington state, led the project, which was sponsored by the CMS and relied on a model pioneered by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. Similar collaborative projects have been completed or are under way in 29 states, according to the article.