Surgeon Experience, Implementation of SSI Surveillance System Associated With Better Outcomes After Colorectal Surgery

Hospital characteristics have been recognized as potential risk factors for surgical site infection for over 20 years. However, most research has focused on patient and procedural risk factors. Understanding how structural and process variables influence infection is vital to identify targets for effective interventions and to optimize healthcare services. The aim of this study by Malheiro, et al. (2021) was to systematically review the association between hospital characteristics and surgical site infection in colorectal surgery.

A systematic literature search was conducted using PubMed, Scopus and Web of Science databases through May 31, 2021. The search strategy followed the Participants, Exposure/Intervention, Comparison, Outcomes and Study design. The primary outcome of interest was surgical site infection rate after colorectal surgery. Studies were grouped into nine risk factor typologies: hospital size, ownership affiliation, being an oncological hospital, safety-net burden, hospital volume, surgeon caseload, discharge destination and time since implementation of surveillance. The STROBE statement was used for evaluating the methodological quality.

A total of 4,703 records were identified, of which 172 were reviewed and 16 were included. Studies were published between 2008 and 2021, and referred to data collected between 1996 and 2016. Surgical site infection incidence ranged from 3.2 to 27.6%. Two out of five studies evaluating hospital size adjusted the analysis to patient and procedure-related risk factors, and showed that larger hospitals were either positively associated or had no association with SSI. Public hospitals did not present significantly different infection rates than private or non-profit ones. Medical school affiliation and higher safety-net burden were associated with higher surgical site infection (crude estimates), while oncological hospitals were associated with higher incidence independently of other variables. Hospital caseload showed mixed results, while surgeon caseload and surveillance time since implementation appear to be associated with fewer infections.

Although there are few studies addressing hospital-level factors on surgical site infection, surgeon experience and the implementation of a surveillance system appear to be associated with better outcomes, the researchers say. For hospitals and services to be efficiently optimized, more studies addressing these variables are needed that take into account the confounding effect of patient case mix.

Reference: Malheiro R, et al. Beyond the operating room: do hospital characteristics have an impact on surgical site infections after colorectal surgery? A systematic review. Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control. Vol. 10, article number 139 (2021).