3M Convenes Infection Prevention Experts for Interdisciplinary Call-to-Action to Reduce SSIs

Today, a cross-functional team of infection prevention experts released "Educate, Empower, Engage: A Collaborative Interdisciplinary Call-to-Action for Reducing Surgical Site Infections," outlining potential solutions for preventing surgical site infections (SSIs) at healthcare facilities. Co-authored by recognized experts in infection prevention, epidemiology, the operating room and sterile processing, the call-to-action focuses on breaking down barriers and improving collaborative teamwork and communication across each hospital function to improve patient safety and outcomes. Information and recommendations in the call-to-action resulted from the fourth annual Infection Prevention Leadership Summit (IPLS).

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as many as 500,000 SSIs are estimated to occur annually,(1-2) a rate representing as much as 22 percent of total healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).(3) New 3M research gathered from IPLS attendees showed the barriers to reducing the number of infections may reside within a healthcare facility's workplace culture. Responses from professional healthcare organizations and industry experts indicate healthcare facilities face challenges related to teamwork, communication and collaboration, process improvements and compliance with infection prevention recommended practices on site:

-- More than 50 percent of those surveyed cited teamwork and collaboration as a top challenge, with 40 percent identifying it as a barrier.

-- Only 43 percent of surgical staffs receive SSI hospital report cards/dashboards.

-- Process improvements were a challenge among 31 percent of facilities.

The impact of these barriers is costly; it has been estimated that SSIs may result in as many as 3.7 million additional hospitalization days and an annual overall cost of $1.6 billion in the United States.(4)

To drive reductions in these statistics, the "Educate, Empower, Engage" call-to-action identifies three areas that, if put into practice, would increase a healthcare facility's ability to reduce SSIs:

-- Educate: Because healthcare institutions are complex and multi-faceted, personnel training must focus on understanding interactions and relationships across departments, demonstrating personal competency, reporting data and outcomes and utilizing electronic medical records.

-- Empower: Healthcare institutions must adopt a culture that delineates responsibility and increases accountability among all personnel, not solely leadership.

-- Engage: Employees should be encouraged to make a psychological investment in patient care, with all disciplines performing their jobs with a level of pride beyond simply achieving formal indicators of success.

"If facilities put all three of these disciplines into practice, it would produce positive change toward the goal of preventing SSIs in every patient, every time," says E. Patchen Dellinger, MD, professor, vice chair and chief of the division of general surgery at the University of Washington Medical Center. "In the area of infection prevention, we believe we must find ways to implement the 'Educate, Empower and Engage' concepts consistently and universally across functions, so that all disciplines are integrated, horizontally and vertically, toward the goal of eliminating SSIs."

The "Educate, Empower and Engage" call-to-action was the result of a three-day summit focused specifically on reducing HAIs and SSIs. The summit, titled "All for None: Eliminating HAIs through Knowledge, Collaboration and Leadership," brought together 80 professionals representing infection prevention, surgery, sterile processing and epidemiology. 3M and its partners convened the group to share ideas' network and generate dialogue about possible interdisciplinary steps that can be taken toward the reduction of HAIs, with special focus on SSIs. Expert faculty members presented the latest challenges and emerging trends in the fields of epidemiology, infection prevention, sterile processing and operating room procedures.

"The summit and call-to-action helped us outline how best we can work together. It is clear there are opportunities to improve information sharing and processes across teams," said Kathleen Kohut, RN, director of infection prevention at NCH Healthcare System. "Teams must work proactively across departments, share in finding solutions and feel empowered to point out when something needs to be improved."

The "Educate, Empower, Engage" call-to-action can be viewed at http://bit.ly/ipls_wp . It will be available for download beginning January 9, 2012.

"This is the fourth year we've convened a cross-functional summit of infection prevention experts, and we are proud of work they have produced," says Debra Rectenwald, president and general manager of 3M's Infection Prevention Division. "We challenge healthcare facilities to use these concepts in their strategic planning moving forward."

The summit and call-to-action is a collaborative effort supported by an educational grant from 3M and its partners Sage Products, Belimed and Rochester Medical and with participation by the following professional associations: Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN)' Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), International Association of Healthcare Central Service Material Management (IAHCSMM), National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF), Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA)' and Surgical Infection Society (SIS).


1. Berrios-Torres, SI. Surgical Site Infection (SSI) Toolkit Slide Deck. Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2009.

2. Anderson DJ, et al. Strategies to Prevent Surgical Site Infections in Acute Care Hospitals. Inf Control and Hosp Epidemiol 2008; 29 (suppl 1):s51-s61.

3. Stone PW, Braccia D, Larson E. Systematic review of economic analyses of healthcare-associated infections. Am J Infect Control. 33 2005:501-509.

4. Martone WJ, Nichols RL. Recognition, prevention, surveillance, and management of surgical site infections: introduction to the problem and symposium overview. Clin Infect Dis. 33 Suppl 2 2001:S67-68.