This March 8-14 marks the annual National Patient Safety Foundation’s Patient Safety Awareness Week. As we think about this year’s theme, “United in Safety,” it is an important reminder that patient safety, specifically surgical site infection (SSI) prevention, is a team effort – from the healthcare products used, to the healthcare professionals, and all the way back to the patients under their care. During this awareness week, and throughout the year, I hope you will join me in prioritizing patient safety.

SSIs and Your Patients

When a patient is scheduled for an operation, there are numerous tasks to be completed before the time of surgery. Between the administrative needs and OR prep, it can be easy to breeze through some of the responsibilities at hand – including skin cleansing. But this can be a costly and harmful mistake:

• SSIs, the most common and most costly healthcare-associated infection1, are associated with significant patient morbidity and mortality

• SSIs account for an excess of up to $3.5 billion in healthcare expenditures each year2

While the incidence and burden of SSIs can seem overwhelming, these adverse events are often largely preventable. In fact, a recent study suggests that as many as 55 percent of SSIs could be prevented with current evidence-based strategies3, which are developed to reduce the risk of infection among surgical patients. Working with our colleagues and actively engaging patients, we can help prevent SSIs and increase patient safety.OR Today | Industry Insights | Putting the Patient at the Center of Surgical Site Infection Prevention

Working with Patients to Prevent SSIs

The preoperative chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) shower has been embraced by many healthcare facilities for patients undergoing elective surgery, but the benefits of these protocols are seriously limited if the proper bathing regimen is not followed or if the product is not used correctly.

We have the responsibility to educate and empower our patients. We can do this, and improve compliance with preoperative skin cleansing protocols, by giving patients the tools, guidance, and support they need to confidently prepare for surgery by keeping the following in mind:

• Provide your patient with CHG products that have easy-to-understand directions

• Walk through the preoperative skin cleansing steps with your patient

• Recommend products that also offer an automatic reminder system, which has been shown to improve adherence4

• On the day of surgery, confirm with your patient whether or not they completed the preoperative skin cleansing regimen

For more on SSI prevention strategies and preoperative skin cleansing, visit