study explores if texts emails can help reduce surgical infections ii

Last time, our blog discussed how surgical site infections — or SSIs — are not only relatively common, but also potentially deadly. Indeed, statistics reveal that the U.S. sees upwards of 400,000 SSIs every year and that roughly 100,000 result in the loss of a patient.

We also discussed how the danger posed by SSIs can be abated to a considerable degree when patients take a preadmission antiseptic shower anywhere from 24 to 48 hours prior to the operation using a germicide called chlorhexidine gluconate — or CHG.

Despite the efficacy of a preadmission antiseptic shower using CHG, medical professionals indicate that many patients often forget to take this critical step prior to undergoing their surgical procedure, putting themselves at an elevated risk of infection.

In recognition of this reality, researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin conducted a first-of-its-kind study to see if patient compliance concerning antiseptic showers and CHG could be improved via modern technology like emails, texts and phone calls.

As part of the study, the researchers recruited 80 volunteers and randomly assigned them to several groups. First, they were assigned to either one group that would take two showers or one group that would take three showers. From there, they were further subdivided into two groups such that one group would receive electronic alert reminders and the other wouldn’t (making a total of four groups).

The researchers were then told to report to a laboratory following their last assigned shower to have the surface of their skin examined at five separate locations to measure concentrations of CHG.

The results revealed the following:

  • The patients who were instructed to shower twice but did not receive electronic alert reminders had CHG skin-surface concentrations that were 66 percent lower than those who received electronic alert reminders.
  • The patients who were instructed to shower three times but did not receive electronic alert reminders had CHG skin-surface concentrations that were 67 percent lower than those who received electronic alert reminders.

According to the researchers, while additional research is needed, the study results are nevertheless encouraging and highlight the need to develop a standardized process for surgical preparation that makes patients vital participants.

“It’s reminding [patients] that they are not a passive player but rather an active participant in an important risk-reduction strategy that if successfully completed can contribute to an improved clinical outcome,” said one of the study authors.

This study is indeed remarkable and will hopefully help reduce the growing incidence of SSIs here in Pennsylvania and across the nation.

What are your thoughts? Would an electronic alert reminder be helpful to you when it comes to surgery prep?

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

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