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Reducing Post-Surgical Infections

With our rapidly changing healthcare system and impending changes within the Medicare program, hospitals are looking for new ways to enhance their patient care, and save money. 7 large hospitals recently teamed up to implement changes that could potentially cut down on dangerous post-surgical infections. With a few simple changes to their routines, they were able to prevent a combined total of 135 infections and saved nearly $4 million. Infections are not just dangerous for patients but they also cost facilities thousands of dollars in additional costs. Recent statistics state around 2 million health care-related infections occur yearly, with 90,000 of them being fatal, though not all are necessarily caused by surgery. The hospitals involved focused on surgeries for cancer and colorectal patients. The reason for using colorectal surgeries as a test is because of the abundance of intestinal tract bacteria. This bacteria is a common cause of infection and because of the frequency, it gave the practitioners more time to work with new protocols. The project was active for 30 months, and in that time solutions were created including having patients wash with germ-killing soap before surgery, having staff change their surgical gowns, surgical gloves, and instruments during the procedure, and some even used special wound-protection products to keep intestinal bacteria off of the patient’s skin. The result was a 5% drop in infection during a 10-month phase alone. Patients who did contract infections during the full project endured hospitals stays that dropped from 15 days to 13, again helping to cut costs. This is an important study for two reasons, it helps patients recover from surgery without additional conditions and it helps the hospitals manage constantly growing expenses. Small adjustments to procedures for a short amount of time yielded positive results. It will be interesting over the course of the next few years to see how many other hospitals will adopt these cost-saving methods. Sources: NBC Vitals - USA Today -
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