Archive June 2017 XVIII, No. 6

The Power to Prevent SSIs

New tools give you the upper hand in the fight against infections.

Phenelle Segal

Phenelle Segal, RN, CIC, FAPIC


fight against SSIs GAME CHANGERS With antibiotic use undergoing increased scrutiny, it's time to bring out some new weapons and revisit some established ones in the fight against SSIs.

The antibiotics police are coming for us, and with good reason. For too long, well-meaning healthcare professionals have leaned too heavily on antibiotics to prevent and fight infections. Now we're paying the price. Mutant superbugs are shaking off traditional weapons the way a dog shakes off rain, and resistance is becoming an enormous challenge.

Outpatient facilities are already feeling the pressure to improve their antibiotic stewardship, pressure that's only going to intensify. Those of us on the front lines of infection prevention are going to need to be creative. We're going to need to find other ways to fight against surgical site infections. Thankfully, there are plenty of other very effective weapons in the infection-control armory that are either relatively new, or — in my estimation — underused.

Some you may not yet know about; others may sound like straightforward reminders of what we should already know. Some are relatively inexpensive; others are fairly costly. Keep in mind that a single preventable infection can not only cost your facility a fortune, it can ruin its reputation, and potentially take a life.

1. Nasal decolonization
MRSA presents a challenge for many outpatient facilities, and more and more of my clients are asking for guidance on how to handle it. Some outpatient facilities simply refuse to do surgery on patients with a history of MRSA, regardless of whether they currently show any signs or symptoms, which is a shame, because they're both turning away business and inconveniencing patients who'd prefer not to be hospitalized.

On the flip side, some facilities may not be cautious enough. They do nothing with respect to identifying high-risk patients. Surgeons may order pre-op bathing for patients, but skin preps have little or no effect on nasal passages, which is the key area of concern for MRSA.

Fortunately, new products that are both highly effective and relatively inexpensive are emerging.

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