Simple Tech to Reduce Surgical Site Infections

Surgeries are often an unfortunate part of seniors’s lives. In all the required preparations, from when not to eat to what clothing to bring, a surprising number of people forget the vital step of taking antiseptic showers—an omission that can lead to serious post-surgical infections.

Hibiclens-Product-300x300While the routine use of antibiotic cleansers has been rightly criticized, they are a necessity before surgery to reduce surface bacteria on the patient’s skin. Doctors explain this, they recommend what cleanser to use (chlorhexidine gluconate [CHG]), they recommend when to use it (24-48 hours before admission), and still people forget.

A group of Milwaukee surgeons decided to test if electronic nagging would help. They divided volunteers into four groups: a prompted vs. unprompted group who were requested to shower twice before surgery, and a prompted vs. unprompted group who were requested to shower three times before surgery. The prompted patients were alerted by email, voicemail or text (the majority’s preference). Each group had the amount of CHG on their skins analyzed; the results showed compliance had risen “significantly” in the prompted groups.

The doctors hope that if their method is widely adopted, it could lessen the nearly 400,000 annual surgical site infections. It’s great to know that such a simple technological solution could help reduce such terrible numbers, but we’re wondering if there might be a follow-up study using sticky notes?