BACKGROUND: We previously developed and pilot tested Clean Cut, a program to prevent postoperative infections by improving compliance with the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist (SSC) and strengthening adherence to infection control practices. This protocol describes the CheckList Expansion for Antisepsis and iNfection Control in Cesarean Section (CLEAN-CS) trial evaluating our program's ability to reduce infections following CS and other obstetric and gynecological operations in Ethiopia.METHODS/DESIGN: CLEAN-CS is a cluster-randomized stepped wedge interventional trial with five clusters (two hospitals per cluster). It aims to assess the impact of Clean Cut on six critical perioperative infection prevention standards including antiseptic practices, antibiotic administration, and routine SCC use. The trial involves baseline data collection followed by Clean Cut training and implementation in each cluster in randomized order. The intervention consists of (1) modifying and implementing the SSC to fit local practices, (2) process mapping each standard, (3) coupling data and processes with site-specific action plans for improvement, and (4) targeted training focused on process gaps. The primary outcome is 30-day CS infection rates; secondary outcomes include other patient-level complications and compliance with standards. Assuming baseline SSI incidence of 12%, an effect size of 25% absolute reduction, and the ability to recruit 80-90 patients per cluster per month, we require a sample of 8100 patients for significance. We will report our study according to CONSORT.DISCUSSION: A cluster-randomized stepped wedge design is well-suited for evaluating this type of surgical safety program. The targeted standards are not in doubt, yet compliance is frequently difficult. Solutions are available and may be recognized by individuals, but teams dedicated to improvement are often lacking. Clean Cut was successfully piloted but requires a more rigorous methodological assessment. We seek to understand the qualities, characteristics, and resources needed to implement the program, the magnitude of effect on processes and outcomes, and to what degree it can enhance compliance with care standards. Challenges include a fraught social and political environment, pandemic travel restrictions, and a limited budget.TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04812522 (registered on March 23, 2021); Pan-African Clinical Trials Registry PACTR202108717887402 (registered on August 24, 2021).
View details for DOI 10.1186/s13063-022-06500-9
View details for PubMedID 35986400