Lapses in infection control measures are a common feature of ambulatory surgical centers in the United States, according to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Here are some recommendations for preventing surgical site infections, from the Infectious Diseases Society of America:

  • Administer antimicrobial prophylaxis in accordance with evidence-based standards and guidelines
  • Do not remove hair at the operative site unless the presence of hair will interfere with the operation; do not use razors
  • Control blood glucose level during the immediate postoperative period for patients undergoing cardiac surgery

Researchers out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention organized to have 68 ambulatory surgical centers surveyed by agents from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) between June and October 2008. The surveyors assessed compliance with specific infection control practices and focused on five areas: hand hygiene, injection safety and medication handling, equipment reprocessing, environmental cleaning, and handling of blood glucose monitoring equipment.

Overall, 68% of the ambulatory surgical centers had at least one lapse in their infection control, and 18% had lapses in at least three of the five infection control categories surveyed. Common lapses included single-dose medication vials used in more than one patient, failure to adhere to recommended practices regarding reprocessing of equipment, and lapses in handling of blood glucose monitoring equipment.

Today's research demonstrates the pervasiveness of lack of proper infection control in ambulatory surgical centers, which potentially puts millions of patients at risk each year.