study explores if texts emails can help reduce surgical infections

Anyone who follows our blog knows that we frequently discuss the dangers posed by hospital-acquired infections such as MRSA, CRE and C. diff, and the steps that medical facilities can — and should — take to address this growing epidemic.

While there is no denying the deadly nature of HAIs, it’s important to know that there are other very dangerous infections facing patients. For instance, patients should know about the risk posed by surgical site infections, or SSIs as they are otherwise known.

As evidenced by their name, SSIs are directly tied to surgical procedures. Statistics show that there are as many as 400,000 SSIs in the U.S. every year and that close to 100,000 of these infections prove deadly.

Fortunately, there are steps that patients themselves can take to reduce the risk of contracting SSIs, including taking a preadmission antiseptic shower using a germ-killing substance known as chlorhexidine gluconate — CHG — anywhere from 24 to 48 hours prior to the operation.

While an antiseptic shower using CHG is a proven method of lowering the risk of wound contamination, experts indicate that many surgical patients fail to take this otherwise simple step despite being instructed to do so beforehand.

In light of this reality and the associated health risks, a group of researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin set out to determine if they could improve the rate of patient cooperation concerning antiseptic showers and the use of CHG through modern technology.

“In general, getting patients to comply with this preadmission cleansing strategy is a challenge throughout health care,” said one of the study authors. “While patients want to be compliant, they will often forget to fulfill this preadmission requirement. So, that’s why we looked to new technology for a solution. When you use a prompt like texting or emailing, you make the patient an intimate partner in the health care process.”

In our next post, we will examine the experiment devised by the researchers and whether they found that electronic reminders can indeed help improve patient compliance with pre-surgical sterilization procedures and, by extension, prevent SSIs.

If a loved one has been diagnosed with a horrific infection here in Pennsylvania that you believe was directly attributable to medical negligence, it’s important to understand that you may have legal options available to you and your family.

Source: Infection Control Today, “Electronic reminders can help patients prevent surgical site infections,” Aug. 2014

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