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Surgery is sometimes an important part of medical care for children. While surgeries can help our patients, they do carry some risks, including infections that happen during recovery — surgical site infections (SSI).

Reducing the frequency of SSI is an important aspect of increasing patient safety. In order to reduce SSI, we use several strategies, including proper antibiotic and antiseptic use. We also record when surgical site infections occur after certain types of surgery to learn how we can improve our care systems and avoid these events in the future.

How are we doing?

For patients who have certain operations, including spinal fusion, ventricular shunt procedures, or heart surgery, we track how many SSI occur within 90 days after the operation. Tracking the number of SSI in this way helps us measure the effectiveness of our efforts to reduce surgical site infections.

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As you can see in the graph, we consistently have low frequency of SSI. Our goal, however, is to further reduce, or even eliminate, SSI among our patients.

What are we doing to improve?

We track surgical site infections related to specific surgeries, and these data are reviewed by our Infection Prevention and Control team, along with other doctors, nurses, and administrators who recommend and implement changes to prevent similar events from occurring in the future. The strategies to prevent SSI include bathing the skin prior to surgery, avoiding razor use for hair removal, appropriate use of antibiotics before and during the operation, and cleaning the incision site with a skin antiseptic before the operation. Additionally, family representatives are part of our subject matter expert team to help us identify ways to continuously improve.

How do we collaborate with other hospitals to improve patient safety?

We submit our SSI data monthly to the Children's Hospitals' Solutions for Patient Safety (SPS) national collaborative. More than 100 hospitals from around the United States participate in this network that tracks hospital-acquired conditions to share best practices regarding patient safety. The goal is not to compare performance, but to learn from each other and reduce serious harm across all hospitals.

* — Comparative Rate: SPS Network Aggregate Rate