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Staying Ahead of SSIs
Identify gaps in care and act quickly to implement protocols that improve infection prevention practices.
Daniel Cook
Publish Date: April 8, 2021   |  Tags:   Infection Prevention
TASK FORCE Members of UW Health's Strike Team have complete autonomy to change and implement infection prevention protocols.   |   Photos by John Maniaci, UW Health

When post-op infections occurred among patients who underwent colon and gynecology procedures at University of Wisconsin (UW) Health, clinical leaders wondered if a lack of compliance with the infection prevention bundle created for the service lines was to blame. Enter the Strike Team, a multidisciplinary group of surgical professionals who were assembled to find out why infections occurred and prevent them from happening again. They identified issues that could have caused the bundle to fail, and addressed them immediately to ensure it didn't again. They also drilled down to the root causes of infections and made sure staff understood the importance of completing the bundle's elements during each case and for every patient.

Their efforts proved successful. The service lines haven't had a reportable surgical site infection in the last 18 months thanks to the team's hard work and dedication to implementing strategies to reduce risks of SSIs.

  • Gathering data. The first step involved identifying the issues that needed to be addressed. During every procedure, the surgical team fills out a Strike Form, on which they check off that essential elements of the bundle — such as ensuring glove changes are conducted at appropriate times during the case, the patient's skin is properly prepped and that the OR's ambient temperature stays within the recommended range — have been met. They also note specific concerns, if they have any, about what they observed during the case. The checkmarks and frontline feedback present a comprehensive report of what occurred in the OR.
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