10 Points on Post-Surgery Infection Rates by ASC Specialty

Surgical Outcomes Information Exchange recently completed a survey of their ASC members, looking at post-operative surgical site infections. Jennifer Green, vice president of network development for SOIX, says that reliable data on the rate of post-operative infections following ambulatory surgery is hard to find.

"Many ASCs don't have access to the information about follow-up care given to the patients after they leave the surgery center," she says. "Most patients return to their surgeon's office for post-op visits, and this would be the most likely time that an infection would be diagnosed. Unless they have a good way to track post-op infections, the surgery center may never know that an infection has occurred."

Each year, surgery centers that are members of SOIX are surveyed on their infection rates. For calendar year 2010, 35 surgery centers participated in the survey, reporting on more than 100,000 cases nationwide. This is a larger number than in previous years, Ms. Green says.

"With all the press that infections in surgery centers have had in the last few years, and the emphasis on infection control practices by regulatory agencies, I think that most surgery centers are very attuned to the fact that this is something people are going to be looking at," she says.

Here are 10 points on surgical site infection rates in ASCs from that survey:

1. Overall infection rate was 1 in 1,000. In the more than 100,000 cases reported from all centers participating in the survey, 100 post-op infections were reported. That translates to a 0.1 percent infection rate overall.

2. Ophthalmology reported 0.01 percent rate of infection. In terms of specialty breakdowns, ophthalmology had the highest volume of cases reported, Ms. Green says. The reported rate of infection was about one in 10,000 procedures.

3. Pain management reported no infections
. Pain management, the second highest specialty in terms of case volume, reported no infections for 2010.

4. Orthopedics reported a 0.3 percent infection rate. Orthopedics had the third highest case volume per specialty in the 2010 survey, and reported an average of three infections for every 1,000 procedures.

5. Otolaryngology reported a 0.02 percent infection rate. Otolaryngology reported two infections for every 10,000 procedures and had the fourth highest case volume for CY 2010.

6. GI reported no infections. GI was the fifth most common specialty in terms of case volume, and also reported no infections.

7. Urology had an infection rate of 0.2 percent. Urology had an 8 percent share of the cases and reported an average of two infections for every 1,000 procedures.

8. No specialty reported an infection rate of more than 0.7 percent. A total of 15 specialties, from dermatology to bariatric surgery, were included in the survey. For specialties that accounted for at least 5 or more percent of the total volume, the highest infection rate was still only 0.4 percent.

9. Most centers reporting infections were multi-specialty. Half of the 35 participating centers were multi-specialty, and the other half were single-specialty centers.

10. Of the ASCs participating in the survey, more than half reported one or more infections for CY 2010. Ms Green feels this shows a diligence on the part of ASCs to make every effort to track and monitor post-op infections.

Ms. Green says that this data should not be taken as a scientific study or used as a definitive measurement of surgical site infection rates in ASCs.

"Our goal at SOIX was to provide our ASC members with some benchmarks they could use for comparing their own rates," she says.

"There is no doubt that government agencies and accrediting bodies now look for the same infection control policies and practices in ASCs as they do in hospitals," Ms. Green says. "Tracking and measuring post-op infections following ambulatory procedures will continue to be a strong indicator of how well ASCs are doing in this regard."

Learn more about Surgical Outcomes Information Exchange.

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