AT ACOG 2016

WASHINGTON (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS) The rate of cesarean delivery surgical site infections fell significantly at Yale New Haven (Conn.) Hospital after implementation of a multidisciplinary care bundle with protocols covering preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative care.

An analysis of two 3-month sampling periods – one before implementation of the bundle of care and one after – showed a drop in the surgical site infection (SSI) rate among total cesarean sections from 3.4% to 2.2%.

At the annual meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Dr. Ashley Pritchard of the hospital described the care bundle and urged obstetricians to consider the impact of even small reductions in SSIs after a cesarean.

“Infection is the most common complication following cesarean delivery … 2.5%-16% of all cesarean deliveries will result in a surgical site infection, and there is significant underestimation as between 15% to 80% of infections are diagnosed after patients leave the hospital,” she said.

A cesarean delivery SSI task force created by the hospital’s obstetric patient safety program developed the care bundle after reviewing best practices, guidelines, and evidence-based reviews.

Preoperative protocols for planned cesareans focused on patient education and included a preoperative appointment and instructions for showering the night before surgery, not shaving for more than 24 hours prior to scheduled surgery, using 2% chlorhexidine wipes both the night prior to surgery and the day of surgery, and other hygiene processes.

“We know from numerous studies that chlorhexidine is superior to iodine, but we also have found that with these wipes you get a level of antibiosis on the skin surface that decreases surgical site infections at the time of incisions,” Dr. Pritchard said.

For the operative care part of the bundle, staff were reeducated about the scrubbing protocol, proper attire and limits on operating room traffic, and the correct and timely use of antibiotics (for example, a cephalosporin administered within 30 minutes of incision). Staff also watched a video and were quizzed on the proper technique and timing for preoperative skin preparation.

Increased attention was paid to normothermia and included preoperative use of warming blankets and proper temperature in the operating room and post–anesthesia care unit.

“We’ve learned from colorectal and trauma surgery that normothermia and patient warming lead to reduced SSI,” Dr. Pritchard said. “This hasn’t been proven with cesarean delivery, but we know there’s improved maternal and fetal well-being with preoperative warming.”

Postoperatively, the use of supplemental oxygen was discontinued unless clinically indicated “since it’s been shown to have no positive effect on SSI,” she said. Incision dressing application and removal were also standardized, with sterile dressings maintained for at least 24 hours – with a tag labeling the date and time of application – and no more than 48 hours. At discharge, patients were given clear discharge instructions and a postpartum appointment for an incision check.

During the 3-month sampling period prior to implementation of the care bundle, there were 382 cesarean deliveries, and 147 patients presented for a postpartum appointment (either the prescribed visit or a later “issue visit”) within 30 days (38%). Of these patients, 8.6% were diagnosed with an SSI.

In the postimplementation sampling period, which began 6 months after rollout, there were 361 cesarean deliveries at the hospital, and 297 patients (77%) presented for postpartum care. Of these patients, 2.9% were diagnosed with an SSI.

An analysis based on the total number of cesarean deliveries performed at the hospital (planned and unplanned) during the two 3-month periods showed a decline in the cesarean delivery SSI rate from 3.4% to 2.2%. “This is statistically significant. It shows a dramatic decline in the SSI rate in our patient population … a clear impact of the bundle of care,” Dr. Pritchard said.

The Yale team attributes the significant increase in postoperative visit attendance to the preoperative protocol for planned cesareans. “We think it had something to do with our creating better relationships by having [patients] present preoperatively and starting their care prior to incision,” she said.

The preoperative visit also provided an opportunity to identify and treat any active skin infections, upper respiratory infections, or chronic colonizations (without evidence of completion of treatment) before delivery. “If necessary and if possible, [we could] push back their cesarean section date to ensure adequate treatment had been achieved,” Dr. Pritchard said.

All aspects of the care bundle were rolled out simultaneously. Next steps for the New Haven team include further analysis of provider and patient views, a look at the sustainability of the bundle of care and its impact, and a cost analysis. “We reduced our SSIs, but we’ve also added a number of elements to our care spectrum, pre- and postoperatively,” Dr. Pritchard said.

For now, one thing seems clear: “We learned from cardiac and colorectal surgery that there really is strength in the bundle, that the sum of the parts is greater than the individual aspects,” she said.

Dr. Pritchard reported that she and her coinvestigators have no relevant financial disclosures.


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