Healthcare Associated Infections (HAI’s) are known to be the most common hospital care complication in the United States. Statistics show that it results in 99,000 deaths annually with over 1.7 million people being infected. They occur in a healthcare facility while patients are receiving treatment. The financial burden related to HAI’s is an estimated $28 billion to $33 billion every year. The four most common infections which make up 80% of all HAI’s are ventilator-associated pneumonia, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, bloodstream infections, and surgical site infections. The lack of attention in mainstream media puts patients in a vulnerable position as most of them are not fully aware of its effects. The severity of complications related to SSI’s and HAI’s cannot be underestimated. Once a patient is infected, it could lead to more serious illnesses. It is the responsibility of the sterile processing professional to follow the guidelines and procedures involved in the appropriate disinfecting of equipment. They should be able to perform their job correctly by doing their best to prevent further infections in their field of work.
Surgical Site Infection (SSI) is continuously representing a significant portion of healthcare infections. The United States Department of Health together with the Human Services Action Plan has identified SSI’s as a top nationwide priority. This is due to its high-risk impact on mortality, morbidity, and cost of care. Most known SSI’s can be prevented. For more than a decade now, evidence-based strategies are being used in many hospitals. In order to effectively prevent surgical infection, systems need to be redesigned to lessen risks and to maximize evidence-based processes. Human skin is a natural barrier which helps the body block out infections. It’s known to take place within 30 days after you’ve had a surgical procedure. The three types of SSI are Superficial Incisional, Deep Incisional and Organ SSI. Superficial Incisional happens in the specific area of the skin where the incision was made. Deep Incisional happens underneath where the incision was made. Typically, it’s in muscle tissues and fascia which are found around the muscles. Organ SSI happens in any part of the body besides the skin, muscle, and fascia. It is found in a body organ or a space in between organs.
Cause and Prevention
1. Using Prophylactic Antibiotics
There is an estimated percentage of 40-60% of Surgical Site Infections which can be avoided by using appropriate prophylactic antibiotics. During operations, 25-50% of practitioners misuse the antibiotics by overusing, underusing and improper timing. A huge sum of hospitalized patients has developed infections which are brought about by Clostridium difficile. Statistics show that 16% of Clostridium difficile infections for surgical patients is solely because of the inappropriate use of prophylactic. Unnecessary prolongation of the antibiotic courses and inappropriate usage puts patients at an even higher chance of health risk complications. This is due to the advancing of pathogens which are antibiotic resistant.
2. Avoiding Shaving in the Operating Site
Together with good surgical technique and the proper usage of antibiotics, there are additional factors which have been proven to significantly affect SSI’s risk. The most common one is due to hair removal while in the operating site. If it’s really necessary, make sure to remove it with clippers beforehand so that you wouldn’t have to do it inside the operating room. A strict protocol regarding this practice will ensure that you’re getting a low-risk chance of being infected with SSI. For heart surgery patients, it’s best to avoid shaving for EKG a few minutes before surgery.
3. Sterile Processing
Sterile processing is the sterilization of surgical instrumentation, consumables and medical devices. It is one of the most vital factors which contribute to the prevention of SSI. The process consists of disinfecting and thoroughly cleaning medical equipment and surgical instrumentation. There are three classes of standards of reusable medical equipment. Including critical, semi-critical and non-critical. Each of these classes needs a specific type of reprocessing level. Critical means items which are introduced through a patient’s bloodstream or a normally sterile body part. Semi-critical are items which are expected to be in contact with an intact mucous membrane. Non-critical are items which don’t have any direct contact with patients. Sterile processing professionals and their duties are crucial in the prevention and overall elimination of HAI’s as it pertains to SSI’s.