Healthcare News & Insights

Hospital for Special Surgery boasts lowest infection rate for hip replacement surgery

Despite performing the most hip replacement surgeries (4,200) in the state of New York, the Hospital for Special Surgery has a statistically lower surgical site infection rate (0.46%), than the state average (1.12%). Not bad when you think about all the possible things that can go wrong during 4,200 surgeries and all the opportunities to spread infection. 

100200280That’s about 15% of the approximate 27,000 hip replacement or revision procedures performed in New York State in 2011.

But this isn’t the hospital’s first time up to bat. It’s the fourth year in a row that the Hospital for Special Surgery has achieved this honor, according to the 2011 report on hospital infection rates just released by the State Department of Health.

“At Hospital for Special Surgery, we perform almost four times more total hip replacement surgeries than any other institution in New York State, and the most in the country,” Surgeon-in-Chief Dr. Thomas Sculco, said in a press release.

“As a national leader in orthopedics, our entire staff is committed to quality and to providing an environment for excellence in patient care and safety,” noted Louis Shapiro, president and CEO. A commitment to providing excellence in patient care and safety is vital now that patients are becoming more engaged in choosing where they go to have surgery. So is providing data the public has access to that shows which hospitals are adopting best practices to keep patients safe.

How they do it

Here are just some of the steps the facility takes to keep its infection rate low:

  • Specializing in orthopedic surgery allows for the creation of systems that improve efficiency in surgical settings within each operating room, lowering surgical times and improving safety. Numerous best practices — many pioneered at Hospital for Special Surgery — have helped to keep infection rates low.
  • The Hospital’s anesthesiologists are leaders in using regional anesthesia for joint replacement, which limits anesthesia only to the surgical region, and reduces bleeding and surgical time.
  • An infection prevention nurse is dedicated and oversees the operating room, and each room is standardized, improving efficiency and lowering surgical time by having surgical tools laid out and organized in the same order.
  • All joint replacement procedures are performed skillfully and quickly, in an average of one to two hours. The shorter the surgical time, the lower the risk for infection.
  • A patient’s exposure to contaminants is minimized during surgery, because they’re isolated from the environment by a specially designed Plexiglas enclosure, which helps to improve air flow and to restrict excess personnel at the surgical field.
  • After surgery, the operating rooms are meticulously cleaned by staff that is regularly monitored for competency by the infection control nurse, and the infection control department ensures that heightened standards are maintained.
  • An electronic data monitoring program serves as a “first alert” system for new cultures and organisms that could pose a threat to patient safety.


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