Review article: The anesthesiologist’s role in the prevention of surgical site infections
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PURPOSE: To highlight the role of anesthesiologists in the prophylaxis of surgical site infections (SSIs) and to recognize the central role they play in quality improvement initiatives for the prevention of SSIs. SOURCE: The medical literature was searched with a focus on three interventions affecting the risk of SSIs: preoperative antibiotic administration, perioperative normothermia, and perioperative hyperoxia. The literature was also searched for examples of initiatives in patient safety and quality improvement that highlight the role of anesthesiologists in preventing SSIs. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: The timely administration of preoperative antibiotics and the maintenance of perioperative normothermia have been shown to reduce the risk of SSI significantly. Perioperative hyperoxia in the prevention of SSIs remains controversial but may improve outcomes in specific subsets of the surgical population. Initiatives in quality improvement show the challenges faced by many centres to improve upon these processes of care, but they also highlight the role of anesthesiologists as champions in the multidisciplinary efforts for the prevention of SSIs. CONCLUSIONS: Anesthesiologists are responsible for many of the processes of care shown to impact the risk for SSIs, and they play an important role in the prevention of SSIs. Their leadership in the multidisciplinary efforts to improve the quality of the surgical patient is of critical importance.
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