Every year, hundreds of thousands of patients develop infections in hospitals around the nation—infections that can cause complications and increase the risk of readmission.That’s why preventing post-operative infection must be a vital component of any successful surgical program … and why, at New England Baptist Hospital, we’re committed to reducing our infection rates to zero. Our orthopedic infection rate continues to be extremely low, and our performance on nationally recognized best practice measures is near perfect.
What we do to prevent infections
Our groundbreaking infection prevention and control program has brought us both recognition and results. We start with a state-of-the-art facility, high standards of cleanliness, and a hospital-wide focus on hand hygiene. We add leading-edge preventive practices and advanced measures for screening and eliminating drug-resistant bacteria. The results are fewer infections and more successful outcomes.
Surgical infection prevention
Best-practices analysis shows that there are several measures that need to be followed before, during, and immediately after a surgical procedure. These measures include: receiving the correct antibiotic at the correct time before your procedure, and stopping the antibiotic within the appropriate timeframe after surgery. Our compliance with recommended best practices for appropriate dosing, timing and discontinuance of antibiotics continues to be above average. Studies have shown that these practices lead to a lower incidence of infection.
In the last thirty years, the world has seen a dramatic increase in infections caused by drug-resistant organisms. You may have heard of MRSA, for example—which stands for Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, one of the most common of these organisms. In 1974, MRSA accounted for only 2% of all staph infections in the United States. But by 2004, that share had leaped to 63%.
To meet this growing threat, we’ve invested in equipment that allows on-site screening for MRSA, prior to admission, in all surgical inpatients. Those who test positive—a small percentage—receive treatment prior to surgery. We credit this program with a significant reduction in MRSA and Staph aureus infections.
In any hospital, hand hygiene is the single most important measure for preventing the spread of infection to patients. At New England Baptist Hospital, all staff members are required to comply with the latest guidelines for hand hygiene, as developed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). All over the Hospital, you’ll see dispensers for alcohol-based hand rub and/or foam. Everyone is expected to perform hand hygiene before and after caring for you, and after touching anything in your environment.
But it never hurts for our patients to give us gentle reminders. Feel free to ask your doctor, your nurse, and anyone else who enters your room: "Did you wash or sanitize your hands?" And you can ask the same question of any member of your health care team—anywhere in the hospital—who is about to make direct physical contact with you or touch the things that are used in your care.
What you can do to prevent infections
Patients who are well-nourished and healthy have a much lower risk of infection. Pay attention to your diet and exercise both before and after surgery. In addition, if you smoke, think about quitting. Smokers are at higher risk of infection and require a longer recovery period.
It is extremely important to follow the instructions given to you on discharge for the proper techniques of caring for your surgical wound. You should also pay attention to hand hygiene—your own and that of your health care team, including family members who are helping you recover at home.