Quality

Superficial and Deep/Organ-Space Surgical Site Infections Should Not Be Combined for Quality Measurement


 

Clinical question: What patient-risk factors predict superficial and deep/organ-space surgical site infections (SSIs) following colectomy procedures?

Background: SSIs are often targeted by policymakers for quality improvement and cost saving. Superficial and deep/organ-specific SSIs are traditionally considered a single entity for quality measurement, although they vary by anatomic location and clinical severity.

Study design: Retrospective cohort study.

Setting: American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement program (ACS-NSQIP).

Synopsis: Researchers used the ACS-NSQIP registry to identify all patients who underwent colectomy procedures across 305 hospitals. Various patient variables, such as demographics, pre-operative risk factors, comorbidities, and operative information, were collected on all patients. The primary outcome was 30-day post-operative superficial SSI and deep/organ-space SSI.

Overall, 27,011 patients underwent colectomy procedures, of which 6.2% developed a superficial SSI and 4.7% developed deep/organ-space SSI. Open surgical approach (vs. laparoscopic) and current smoking were the only risk factors that predicted the occurrence of both superficial and deep/organ-space SSI. Other risk factors (e.g., post-operative diagnoses, disseminated cancer, and irradiation therapy) had a differential effect and only predicted the occurrence of deep/organ-space SSI. Elevated body mass index was strongly correlated with the occurrence of superficial SSI.

Key limitations of the study included unavailability of infection rates beyond 30 days and grouping of deep and organ-space SSIs, as the latter might vary in magnitude and significance.

Bottom Line: Risk factors that predict superficial and deep/organ-space SSI differ significantly, suggesting that future quality initiatives and reporting should evaluate different types of SSIs independently.

Citation: Lawson EH, Hall BL, Ko CY. Risk factors for superficial vs. deep/organ-space surgical site infections: implications for quality improvement initiatives [published online ahead of print July 17, 2013]. JAMA Surg.

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