Background: Postoperative pneumonia can lead to increased morbidity, length of hospital stay, and costs. Pneumonia-prevention programs have been successfully implemented in ICU settings, but no program exists for surgical ward patients.
Study design: A pilot prevention program was designed and implemented based on literature review. The program consisted of education of physicians and ward staff and a standardized postoperative electronic order set consisting of incentive spirometer, chlorhexidine oral hygiene, ambulation, and head-of-bed elevation. Quarterly staff meetings discussed the results of and compliance with the program. The intervention commenced in April 2007. Baseline incidence of inpatient ward pneumonia was calculated from the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program database for fiscal year (FY) 2006 and FY 2007. Postintervention incidence was calculated in the same manner from FY 2007 through FY 2008. Any patient who contracted pneumonia in the ICU was excluded from analysis.
Results: There was a significant decrease in ward pneumonia incidence from 0.78% in the preintervention group compared with 0.18% in the postintervention group (p = 0.006), representing an 81% decrease in incidence from 2006 to 2008.
Conclusions: The pneumonia-prevention program was very successful in diminishing postoperative pneumonia on the surgical ward. There was a highly statistically significant 4-fold decrease in pneumonia incidence after program implementation. The interventions were not costly but did require ongoing communication and cooperation between physician and nursing leadership to achieve compliance with the measures. This program has great potential for dissemination to hospital surgical wards and could decrease inpatient postoperative pneumonias.
Published by Elsevier Inc.