How surgical infections are transmitted in the O.R.
Site infections are caused by the transfer of microorganisms to the wound. The transfer can be direct from contact with either patient or staff. Or indirect from either air or from contact with contaminated medical equipment. The source of the infection can be either from the patients themselves – endogenous – for example the patient’s own skin, or, exogenous, most typically from medical staff9.
The risks of microbial contamination – the challenge of MRSA
It is estimated that as much as one-third of the population naturally carries Staphylococcus aureus – the ‘SA’ in MRSA – on the skin10. These bacteria can cause infections in patients’ open wounds and other susceptible sites10. Naturally, this illustrates the importance of keeping Staphylococcus aureus away from contaminating patients’ open wounds.
MRSA, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, poses a great challenge for the healthcare sector worldwide. Once developed, these infections are difficult to treat since they are resistant to several antibiotics. This highlights the need to combat MRSA with efficient infection prevention.
The costs of infections from surgery
The total costs of hospital-acquired infections are great and infections from surgery, SSI, are the third most common cause of infections in hospitals4.
In a recent study by the European Commission, no fewer than 16 million extra hospital days were attributed to HAI treatment, at a cost of 435 EUR a day, resulting in an unnecessary additional annual spend of 7 billion EUR3.
However, the location of the infection plays an important role in severity of its impact. A superficial surgical site infection is estimated to cost around 400 USD per case compared to 30,000 USD for a vital organ or space infection4. However, the cost estimates of SSI are often underestimated due to its dependency on proper reporting and the fact that most studies only cover the cost for the extended hospital stay3, 5.