HOT SPRINGS — St. Joseph’s Mercy Health Center in Hot Springs was recognized as an “Exemplar Hospital” by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement as a leader in developing and implementing practices that reduce surgical-site infections.
The hospital was presented the designation July 20 by the institute as part of Project JOINTS. The project is designed to encourage medical facilities to use certain methods to prevent infections at surgical sites, such as knees and hips. JOINTS stands for joining organizations in tackling surgical site infections.
The program includes St. Joseph’s Mercy and 18 other hospitals in Arkansas. The state initiative is directed by the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care.
“This hospital is truly a front runner when it comes to fighting infections,” said Nancy Godsey, a quality specialist with the foundation. “If we say there is a project in the state thatimproves patient care, they will be there.”
She said hospital personnel were given an award for medical innovation in 2010 for their anti-infection program before Project JOINTS was announced.
“You are already doing what we are encouraging others to do,” Anila Hussaini, project manager with the institute, told hospital officials when she presented the certificate. “We’re doing this in 185 hospitals, and you’re in the topfew to receive this. Thank you for all the work you’re doing and sharing it with us.”
Knee and hip replacements are now among the most commonly performed surgeries in the United States, and as the population ages but remains active, those numbers are predicted to increase dramatically. The institute said as many as 20,000 surgical-site infections occur annually. Project JOINTS is a five-state program funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Terri Dobyns, director of St. Joseph’s Mercy’s surgical unit, where hip and knee replacements are performed, said that as of July 20, the doctors at the hospital had conducted 334 knee or hip replacements in 2011 without one post-surgical infection.
Hussaini said the Institute for Healthcare Improvement has developed the IHI Enhanced Surgical Site Infection Prevention Bundle based on the latest medical evidence.
The institute encourages hospitals to follow these procedures:
◊Have the patient bath or shower with a special antibacterial soap at least three hours before surgery.
◊Screen patients for staph infections prior to surgery.
◊Prepare the skin at the surgical site with an alcoholbased solution.
◊Give appropriate antibiotics to the patient before surgery.
◊Avoid shaving the surgical site.
In addition, Teresa Lambert, executive director of outpatient services at St. Joseph’s Mercy, said the operating room where the surgeries are performed provides Laminerflow air movement.
“The air flow in the room is from one side of the room to another,” she said during a tour of the hospital after the announcement. “This prevents an airborne infection from being blown down into the exposed area.”
Along with these procedures, the hospital set up a program in which patients attend a class about the procedure a week before entering the hospital.
“When we educate the patients and they know what to expect, we have better outcomes,” Lambert said. “They know exactly what to expect when they’re here and exactly what is expected with them.”
She said the bathing instructions, staph screen and information about rehabilitation are given to the patient.
Kim Huckabee, director of rehabilitation services at the hospital, said the patient is encouraged to walk soon after surgery.
“We want them to walk and exercise and discourage them from going back to bed,” she said.
Huckabee said the rehab center staff would like patients to work with a family member so they can continue their exercises when they return home.
Dobyns said a patient whocomes in for a knee or hip replacement on a Monday usually goes home on Thursday, depending on the patient’s age and general health.
Dr. Robert Olive, an orthopedic surgeon, said the classes and infection protocols make a difference in the hospital.
“We’ve seen a profound change in our patients in the past year,” he said. “People are getting out quicker, and the quicker they are up, the fewer t he complicat ions. Patients come in after three weeks without a cane; that was not the way it used to be.”
Staff writer Wayne Bryan can be reache d at (501) 244-4460 o r email@example.com.