Archive September 2018 XIX, No. 9

Infection Prevention: Zero Infections and Counting

Small improvements made a big difference in this hospital's quest to eliminate surgical site infections.

Daniel Cook

Daniel Cook, Executive Editor


Atrium Health-CHS Lincoln
COMPLETE COVERAGE Pre-op nurses at Atrium Health-CHS Lincoln use chlorhexidine gluconate wipes to prepare the skin from chin to toe.
Award Winner

OR Excellence Award Winner

Two years ago, post-op infection rates unexpectantly spiked to nearly 20% among colon surgery patients at Atrium Health-CHS Lincoln in Lincolnton, N.C. The clinical team took an honest look at their prepping and patient care practices, but weren’t able to pinpoint significant issues that would have led to such a worrisome jump in SSIs. Still, they had to do something to address the issue.

The facility’s infection preventionist and a general surgeon led the staff on a back-to-basics approach to infection prevention practices. Their efforts worked: Last year, the hospital’s infection rate dropped to 5.5%. It was a decrease worthy of recognition and celebration, but Atrium Health wins the 2018 OR Excellence Award in Infection Prevention for refusing to settle for good results when they knew they were capable of achieving great outcomes.

“It was motivating to see positive change,” says Teresa Burwell, MHR, BSN, RN, NE-BC, CGRN, the hospital’s director of perioperative services. “When we realized such a big drop in SSI rates after making small adjustments, we wondered how much better our infection prevention practices would be if we did even more.”

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