Archive Infection Control 2019

On Point: Inching Closer to Zero

Innovation and collaboration will help eliminate preventable SSIs.

Sue Barnes

Sue Barnes, RN, CIC, FAPIC


HANDS IN Work with your staff to expand their infection prevention efforts beyond basic practices.

Where are we with surgical site infections today? Your attention to detail while prepping skin, cleaning environmental surfaces and reprocessing instruments has significantly lowered SSI rates in recent years, but we've still got plenty of work left to do before every patient leaves the OR with nothing more than a healing scar.

Peer-reviewed studies report average infection rates in inpatient ORs of 2% to 4%. A study published this year involving 665 ASCs reports infections represented 3% of all adverse events (

These low rates are good news. However, the most current CDC healthcare-acquired infections progress report for 2016-2017 notes only a 1% decrease from previous years in inpatient SSI rates. That plateauing of rates can be attributed to the significant progress in infection prevention practices made over the last decade. It's harder to move the needle as we move closer to eliminating infection risks, but you can keep pushing it closer to zero by overcoming common barriers to basic infection prevention practices and expanding your focus to factors that have traditionally been considered less of a risk. For example:

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