Lean Six Sigma: Can Surgical Related Infections Be Reduced?

lean six sigma, healthcare, innovation, six sigma focus

The second most common event with hospitalized patients is surgical site infection. It is also a major source of morbidity following surgical procedures. According to research, over 1.4 million patients develop surgical site infections, with a varying degree of severity, each year in the United States. This works out to be about 2% of combined inpatient and outpatient procedures. Despite significant efforts in refining surgical practices and researching best practices in healthcare, we continue to struggle with surgical site infections that adversely affect patient health and increases costs.

Surgical Success with Lean Six Sigma

According to a recent study, using Lean Six Sigma methodology can reduce the risk of healthcare associated infections among surgical patients. The study demonstrated that using the resources of a multidisciplinary team, Lean Six Sigma methodologies applied in the surgical department could achieve significant results. The study demonstrated that researchers observed a 20% reduction in the reduction of surgical infections and the associated hospitalization days of patients. Using this type of approach, in combination with other tools for reducing risk of infection, effective new processes could be developed and implemented.

Improving Surgical Patient Outcomes

Surgical infections occur because of a breakdown of the equilibrium that exists between organisms and the host. This may be due to a breach in a protective surface, changes in host resistance, or particular characteristics of the organism. The possible outcomes are resolution, abscess formation, extensive local spread with or without tissue death, and distant spread. Infection is the main enemy of the surgeon. There are a number of reasons for this.

Those who care for surgical patients can never be complacent in their efforts to diminish the risk of infection. This study clearly demonstrates that the use of Lean Six Sigma methodologies in surgical departments, staffed with multidisciplinary professionals and their expertise, can significantly reduce the risk of surgical infections.