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April 1986

Decreasing the Incidence of Surgical Wound Infections: Validation of a Surveillance-Notification Program

Author Affiliations

From the Infection Control Unit, Medical Center Hospital of Vermont (Dr Mead and Ms Hall), and the Department of Surgery (Drs Pories, Davis, and Gamelli) and Biometry Facility (Ms Vacek), University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington.

Arch Surg. 1986;121(4):458-461. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1986.01400040096015

• In an attempt to validate the observations of a previously published ten-year study of surgical wounds, we studied 8,474 wounds over an 18-month period using a protocol nearly identical to that of the previous study. Our study corroborated the following predictors of clean-wound infection: increasing duration of surgery, age less than 1 or greater than 50 years, increasing duration of preoperative hospitalization, use of drains, and shaving and emergency surgery. We failed to corroborate use of wound irrigation as a protective measure or time of preoperative shaving as a significant variable. Most importantly, we found a 42% reduction in the clean-wound infection rate during the study period (1.9% to 1.1%), adding support to the concept that a wound surveillance program with surgeon notification is both efficacious and cost-effective.

(Arch Surg 1986;121:458-461)

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