How to slash colorectal surgery infection rates



A quality improvement project conducted at the Cleveland Clinic dropped the 30-day colorectal surgery infection rate from 11.8% to 6.6%, driven mostly by a reduction in deep organ space infections from 5.5% to 1.7%.

It was a remarkable finding that got the attention of attendees at the annual clinical congress of the American College of Surgeons. The Cleveland Clinic had been an outlier, in the wrong direction, compared with other centers, and administrators wanted a solution.

I. Emre Gorgun, MD, FACS, a colorectal surgeon and quality improvement officer at Cleveland Clinic, led the search for evidence-based interventions. Eventually, big changes were made to perioperative antibiotics, mechanical bowel prep, preop shower routines, and intraoperative procedures. The efforts paid off (Dis Colon Rectum. 2018 Jan;61[1]:89-98).

To help surgeons lower their own infection rates, Dr. Gorgun agreed to an interview at the meeting to explain exactly what was done.

There was resistance at first from surgeons who wanted to stick with their routines, but they came around once they were shown the data backing the changes. Eventually, “everyone was on board. We believe in this,” Dr. Gorgun said.

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