As ASCs prepare to re-open post-COVID-19, infection control is first and foremost on everyone’s mind. What protocols does your ASC have in place to make infection prevention a priority?

Understanding SSI rates

Some studies have found that surgical site infection (SSI) rates are lower at ASCs than in hospital settings. Still, SSI rates can be as high as 33.62 visits per 1,000 in the first 30 days after surgery.

Many national guidelines set the framework for how we can lower infections. For example, the CMS Conditions for Coverage detail infection control mandates that most ASCs are familiar with. And many aim to use surgical safety checklists as an infection prevention measure.

That said, many frameworks for infection control are targeted to hospital settings. ASCs require a unique set of tools for data collection and communication. Specific digital solutions can help boost data collection and improve quality reporting.

How can going digital help?

Streamlined reporting software can significantly improve the process of data analysis. Instead of slogging through paperwork to measure data, implement software that tracks key metrics for you. This will free up crucial time that can instead be focused on improving infection control.

Build staff relationships

Research has found that clinicians who are rude, unprofessional, and have poor team relationships are more likely to have higher complication rates, including higher rates of infection. What can you do to build relationships between staff? Some key steps could be to improve employee communication. Keep everyone on the same page with a streamlined software or OR big board. Make learning each other’s names mandatory, and use surgical caps that mark the clinician’s name during procedures.

Don’t forget soft surfaces

Furniture, privacy curtains, and even clothing are oft-forgotten areas of potential contamination. Follow checklists for preventing soft surface contamination. Make sure every staff member knows who is responsible for cleaning. Some facilities will bring in cleaning services, while others rely on staff members. Remember, however, that when a task is everyone’s job, it’s really no one’s job. Cleanliness is a responsibility that should be clearly assigned.

Keeping these areas clean isn’t just essential for infection control—overall cleanliness is also a key metric in patient satisfaction. One survey even found that 48% of patients said that a core reason their provider surpassed expectations was their clear commitment to infection prevention.

Consistency is key

Perhaps the most critical strategy for infection prevention is consistency. Monitor compliance both digitally and observationally and follow up on areas of non-compliance regularly. The more that policies are repeated to staff, the higher the compliance scores.