Unveiling the True Costs of Surgical Site Infections: Insights From Experts at AORN


Discover research by Peter Graves, BSN, RN, CNOR, and Maureen Spencer, MEd, RN, CIC, FAPIC, the lasting impact and hidden expenses of SSIs, shedding light on effective prevention strategies.

Recent research was presented in several presentations and posters at the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses's (AORN’s) International Surgical Conference & Expo 2024. It revealed the staggering long-term costs and lasting repercussions of Surgical Site Infections (SSIs), challenging conventional understandings. Delving into the complexities of colorectal, hysterectomy, total joint replacements, and spine surgeries, these findings highlight the urgent need for practical prevention strategies.

Infection Control Today® spoke with Peter Graves, BSN, RN, CNOR, an independent perioperative nurse consultant, and Maureen Spencer, MEd, RN, CIC, FAPIC, an infection preventionist consultant for the Boston, Massachusetts area, who created these presentations and posters.

The conference ran from Saturday, March 9, to Tuesday, March 12, 2024.

For all ICT’s coverage, go here.

“… here at AORN. What we tried to do was bring a little bit from last year and bring forward the true costs of SSIs,” Graves said. “So, we produced four posters focused on SSI costs. And what we did was we looked at colorectal and hysterectomy and put those together; we also looked at total joints, hips, knees, and spine. And we put those out there to show what the true costs over a 12-to-24-month period are. National Healthcare Safety Network only looks at 30- to 90-day infection rates and then related costs associated with it. But in true reality, infections don't stop at 30 or 90 days; they sometimes last for a lifetime.”

Grave then explained how he and Spencer brought in the posters for their overall agenda. “In addition to that, we became very tactical this year, something where we're more focused on the actual costs of and the actual incidents that SSIs last year we came in and tried to give practical advice to practitioners. So, they can implement these bundles in an effort to reduce the SSIs that are related to colorectal.”

Spencer mentioned behavior medication techniques “and how to change attitudes. How do you engage staff to care about this? They have so many different things thrown out at them that they want their attention of them to be a champion for, you know, different issues of different, even innovative products, and so forth. But a really good foundation that I've used throughout my career, and it was part of my master's degree in education, was social learning theory.“

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