Prevention Strategies of SSIs for the Elderly Require More Attention


Most information on SSI risk factors in the elderly is more than 10 years old.

Surgical site infections (SSIs) are an important cause of morbidity, mortality, and increased length of stay in the hospital for the elderly. But which surgeries and which SSIs show up most often? Trish Perl, MD, MSc, is the Jay P Sanford Professor in the Departments of Medicine (Infectious Diseases and Geographic Medicine) and the Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas TX, and she addressed that question in her presentation, “Prevention of SSI Among the Elderly,” at the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) Spring conference held April 12-14 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“I looked at how important the population, especially those over 75 years, are in terms of the proportion of procedures that they account for. So, I am really trying to make the argument that this is going to be a population we're going to have to pay attention to. Then I spent time going over the data that has been published,” Perl told Infection Control Today® (ICT®) in an exclusive interview. “Looking at one [study], the risk for mortality in this patient population who has SSI, showing that this [SSI] is not only an important cause of morbidity, increased length of stay, as well as mortality, but also looking in certain types of surgical site infections, such as those that are caused by [Staphylococcus aureus]and [Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus] that appear to have even a more important impact. Then I finally discussed a little bit some of the prevention strategies, but ultimately, it comes down to [the fact that] there are guidelines for this population that have been put together by various geriatric societies, etc, that are really focused on maintaining the neurologic functional status of these individuals, but not really focusing on the infection prevention strategies. So I discussed some of the things that might be particularly important in this population.”

About the SHEA Spring conference, Perl said, “I think the conference has been very, very eye opening in terms of, of just getting an understanding of what is going on [in the world of infection preventionists and the elderly], but I think we're going to have our work cut out for us, given some of the basic infection control strategies that have been neglected in the pandemic.”

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