The effect of a quality improvement collaborative to improve antimicrobial prophylaxis in surgical patients: a randomized trial

Ann Intern Med. 2008 Oct 7;149(7):472-80, W89-93. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-149-7-200810070-00007.


Background: Quality improvement collaboratives are used to improve health care quality, but their efficacy remains controversial.

Objective: To assess the effects of a quality improvement collaborative on preoperative antimicrobial prophylaxis.

Design: Longitudinal cluster randomized trial, with the quality improvement collaborative as the intervention.

Setting: United States.

Participants: 44 acute care hospitals, each of which randomly sampled approximately 100 selected surgical cases (cardiac, hip or knee replacement, and hysterectomy) at both the baseline and remeasurement phases.

Intervention: All hospitals received a comparative feedback report. Hospitals randomly assigned to the intervention group (n = 22) participated in a quality improvement collaborative comprising 2 in-person meetings led by experts, monthly teleconferences, and receipt of supplemental materials over 9 months.

Measurements: Change in the proportion of patients receiving at least 1 antibiotic dose within 60 minutes of surgery (primary outcome) and change in the proportions of patients given any antibiotics, given antibiotics for 24 hours or less, given an appropriate drug, and given a single preoperative dose and receipt of any of the 5 measures (secondary outcome).

Results: The groups did not differ in the change in proportion of patients who received a properly timed antimicrobial prophylaxis dose (-3.8 percentage points [95% CI, -13.9 to 6.2 percentage points]) after adjustment for region, hospital size, and surgery type. Similarly, the groups did not differ in individual measures of antibiotic duration; use of appropriate drug; receipt of a single preoperative dose; or an all-or-none measure combining timing, duration, and selection.

Limitations: Hospitals volunteered for the effort, thereby resulting in selection for participants who were motivated to change. Implementation of the surgical infection prevention measure reporting requirements by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and The Joint Commission may have motivated improvement in prophylaxis performance.

Conclusion: At a time of heightened national attention toward measures of antimicrobial prophylaxis performance, the trial did not demonstrate a benefit of participation in a quality improvement collaborative over performance feedback for improvement of these measures.

Trial registration: NCT00114036.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antibiotic Prophylaxis / standards*
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Feedback
  • Hospitals / standards*
  • Humans
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care*
  • Surgical Wound Infection / prevention & control*
  • United States

Associated data