Background: Surgical site infections (SSI) increase morbidity and mortality, hospital costs, length of stay, readmissions, and risk of litigation and may impact a facility's reputation.
Methods: Through implementation of a Six Sigma, interdisciplinary team process and the Contextual Model for change engaged all stakeholders. A total of 44 perioperative processes were evaluated, with 15 processes ultimately altered. Revisions involved identifying inconsistent implementation of procedures and standardizing processes, as well as utilizing new suture techniques and products including disposable electrocardiogram leads and pacing wires, antibiotic-coated sutures, and silver-impregnated midsternal dressings.
Results: In isolated coronary artery bypass grafting with donor-site procedures, an incidence of 3.74 per 100 procedures was reduced to 0.7 and ultimately to 0. No patients who underwent coronary artery bypass grafting developed a deep sternal wound infection in over 30 months and 590 procedures, resulting in an estimated cost savings of more than $600 000, from May 2012 through December 2014.
Conclusions: A significant reduction in deep sternal wound infections was achieved by working at all levels of the organization through a multidisciplinary approach to create sustained change. Using real-time observations for current practices, areas for improvement were identified. By engaging frontline staff in the process, ownership of the outcomes and adherence to practice change were promoted. The result was a dramatic, rapid, and sustainable improvement in the prevention of deep sternal wound infection.