In a new consensus safety bundle designed to reduce the frequency of infections related to gynecologic surgery, an expert panel is calling for preoperative evaluation of infection risk in every patient and surgical timeouts in every case.

The bundle, from the Council on Patient Safety in Women & Mother’s Health Care, seeks to compile existing guidelines and evidence-based recommendations in a way that can be easily implemented with whatever resources an individual institution has available.

“Gynecologic procedures pose a unique challenge in that potential pathogenic microorganisms may come from the skin or ascend from the vagina and endocervix to the operative site and can result in vaginal cuff cellulitis, pelvic cellulitis, and pelvic abscesses,” Joseph E. Pellegrini, PhD, CRNA , of the University of Maryland School of Nursing, Baltimore, and his colleagues wrote in the document.

The safety bundle covers four domains:

1. Readiness (every facility). The statement calls for standardized preoperative and postoperative care instructions and clearly defined roles for each surgical team member.

Standards should also be established regarding skin preparation, use of prophylactic antibiotics (terminate them within 24 hours after surgery completion unless medical indications are present), and temperature, such as ambient operating room temperature.

“Although the effect of temperature maintenance on surgical site infection is not definitive,” the consensus statement says, “there is no denying other benefits of normothermia; foremost among these is overall patient satisfaction and comfort.”

2. Recognition and prevention (every patient). Every patient should undergo a preoperative evaluation of infection risk based on blood glucose level, body mass index, immunodeficiency, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) status, nutritional status, and smoking status.

3. Response (every case). Develop “timeouts” during operations, as mandated by the Joint Commission, to address antibiotic dosage and timing, and reassess risk for infection following the procedure based on the length of surgery and blood loss.

4. Reporting and systems learning (every facility). Develop “huddles” – brief team meetings of less than 15 minutes – for high-risk patients. Surgeons and hospital officials should also create a system to report and analyze data about surgical site infections and share physician-specific infection data with all surgeons as part of ongoing professional practice evaluation.

The statement appeared in Obstetrics & Gynecology ( 2017;129:50-61 ) and was published concurrently in Anesthesia & Analgesia, the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing, and the AANA Journal.

The authors reported having no potential conflicts of interest.