Hospitals have made improvements in surgical infection-prevention measures but there still exists wide variation among facilities in providing the right care, according to a new Consumers Union report.
At least 100,000 patients were at risk of developing an infection after surgery because they did not receive the appropriate prevention interventions, according to the report, Cutting Surgical Infections. The consumer advocacy group studied hospital performance on three process measurespatients given an antibiotic one hour before surgery; the right drug is used; and the antibiotic is discontinued within 24 hours after surgeryas reported by the CMS through its Hospital Compare Web site. The data cover surgeries between July 1, 2007, and June 30, 2008, as well as historical data showing hospital performance over time. The report is based on a sample of patients reported by hospitals.
Hospitals performed the worst in discontinuing antibiotics after surgery but fared best in using the right drug when it was administered prior to a procedure. To provide a fuller picture of how hospitals are trying to reduce infections, Consumers Union recommends that hospitals be required to report surgical infections and publish those rates in addition to performance on process measures.