Development of a Surgical Infection Surveillance Program at a Tertiary Hospital in Ethiopia: Lessons Learned from Two Surveillance Strategies. Surgical infections Forrester, J. A., Koritsanszky, L. n., Parsons, B. D., Hailu, M. n., Amenu, D. n., Alemu, S. n., Jiru, F. n., Weiser, T. G. 2018; 19 (1): 25–32


Surgical site infections (SSIs) are a leading cause of post-operative morbidity and mortality. We developed Clean Cut, a surgical infection prevention program, with two goals: (1) Increase adherence to evidence-based peri-operative infection prevention standards and (2) establish sustainable surgical infection surveillance. Here we describe our infection surveillance strategy.Clean Cut was piloted and evaluated at a 523 bed tertiary hospital in Ethiopia. Infection prevention standards included: (1) Hand and surgical site decontamination; (2) integrity of gowns, drapes, and gloves; (3) instrument sterility; (4) prophylactic antibiotic administration; (5) surgical gauze tracking; and (6) checklist compliance. Primary outcome measure was SSI, with secondary outcomes including other infection, re-operation, and length of stay. We prospectively observed all post-surgical wounds in obstetrics over a 12 day period and separately recorded post-operative complications using chart review. Simultaneously, we reviewed the written hospital charts after patient discharge for all patients whose peri-operative adherence to infection prevention standards was captured.Fifty obstetric patients were followed prospectively with recorded rates of SSI 14%, re-operation 6%, and death 2%. Compared with direct observation, chart review alone had a high loss to follow-up (28%) and decreased capture of infectious complications (SSI [n?=?2], endometritis [n?=?3], re-operations [n?=?2], death [n?=?1]); further, documentation inconsistencies failed to capture two complications (SSI [n?=?1], mastitis [n?=?1]). Concurrently, 137 patients were observed for peri-operative infection prevention standard adherence. Of these, we were able to successfully review 95 (69%) patient charts with recorded rates of SSI 5%, re-operation 1%, and death 1%.Patient loss to follow-up and poor documentation of infections underestimated overall infectious complications. Direct, prospective follow-up is possible but requires increased time, clinical skill, and training. For accurate surgical infection surveillance, direct follow-up of patients during hospitalization is essential, because chart review does not accurately reflect post-operative complications.

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