AHRQ Releases Surgical Site Infections Toolkit

By on 6:07 AM

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has released a new toolkit intended to help hospitals reduce surgical site infections (SSIs).

The AHRQ's latest "Toolkit to Promote Safe Surgery" was developed based on the experiences of frontline providers in approximately 200 hospitals that participated in a national implementation project and successfully reduced SSIs. It was adapted from AHRQ's Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program (CUSP) to the surgical setting.

The purpose of the tool is to help a safety program team understand lapses in infection prevention processes that may have contributed to an SSI. It is intended to help a team identify practice patterns and inconsistencies in practice in order to more easily pinpoint opportunities for intervention.

To help a safety program team investigate an SSI, the tool covers a wide range of questions and topics, including the following:
  • Who participated in the procedure
  • Use of a preoperative mechanical bowel prep and oral antibiotics
  • Use of an active warming device
  • Patient temperature
  • Glucose control
  • Skin prep
  • Prophylactic antibiotics

AHRQ recommends adapting the tool, noting the following: "A team of clinicians designed this tool to assess practice variability in its perioperative area. Your team may want to investigate care processes that are not included in this tool, or assess different levels for normothermia or glucose control. Also, this tool may include processes your team does not use. Please modify this tool to best fit your team's needs."

In terms of how to best use the tool, AHRQ states the following: "Your team should investigate as many site infections as possible, but there is no right number to review. A team member can abstract this information from a patient’s chart and present it to the team at a safety program or CUSP meeting. If you already have a site infection review process, you can embed this tool into your existing process. Only you know the approach that will work best in your perioperative area."

Access the tool by clicking here.

Phenelle Segal, RN, CIC, FAPIC

Phenelle Segal, RN, CIC, FAPIC, is the founder and president of Infection Control Consulting Services LLC (ICCS). Phenelle has more than 30 years' experience providing customized comprehensive infection control and prevention services to healthcare facilities nationwide. Her services focus on assisting hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, dental office and oral surgery practices, doctor's offices, nursing homes and other organizations with implementing and maintaining an infection control program that: complies with The Joint Commission, AAAHC, Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) and other regulatory agencies; respond to situations of noncompliance; and improve the processes for reducing risk.