Infections remain a threat to patient safety

Infections remain a threat to patient safety during surgery

Surgical infections are a threat to patient safety for all who undergoes any surgery. The skin is marvelously effective at protecting us from infection, but once that seal is broken, things can go terribly wrong. With much orthopedic surgery, the incision is necessary and the implant that may be used can itself carry additional risk of infection.

What needs to be done is basic to the process. The site of the surgery must be properly cleaned, in some cases the patient should have antibiotics administered at the proper time in advance of the surgery and, of course, the operating room and all of the doctors, nurses and other medical personnel should adhere to the proper standards of maintaining sterile conditions during the surgery.

And yet some patients will still become infected. There is a great deal of variability in patients’ susceptibility to infection and the standard of care would argue that identifying those patients is essential.

Eventually, one doctor suggests, we will test patients for the bacteria they are susceptible to in the same manner in which we test for allergies. This would allow for a focused use of antibiotics or other procedures that reduce the likelihood of that type of infection.

With increasing concerns over the rise of drug-resistant bacteria and the reduction in capability to fight many infections, one must argue all the more forcefully for the highest standard of care in the preparation of operating rooms. This should include careful filtering of air supply, limits on the number of persons in the operating room and minimizing the passage of individuals into the operating room during surgery.

While some patients may still be infected, the better the level of prevention, the fewer patients harmed.

Source: sfexaminer.com, “Surgical infections: Evolving solutions,” Dr. Kevin R. Stone, September 20, 2015