March 9, 2022

Effect of pandemic OR supply shortage on SSIs

Editor's Note

This study led by researchers at the City of Hope National Medical Center, Duarte, California, finds that shortages of shoe covers, disposable head covers, and single-use facemasks during the COVID-19 pandemic did not increase surgical site infections (SSIs).

Researchers compared SSI rates reported to the National Healthcare Safety Network between January 1, 2018 and March 31, 2021.

Results showed that reducing the use of traditional shoe covers, allowing washable head coverings, and reusing facemasks during the COVID-19 pandemic was associated with a decreased SSI rate from 5.1% to 2.6%.

Use of disposable facemasks decreased from 3.5 million per year to 0.8 million per year. At the same time, hand hygiene throughout the hospital increased from 71% to 85%.

The data suggest that disposable head covers, shoe covers, and frequent changes of facemasks are unnecessary, the researchers say. The data also reinforce the importance of good hand hygiene for infection prevention.

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