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Study ties shorter surgeries to fewer infections

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Jan. 19, 2009

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Twenty-five minutes less in surgery could be what sets apart hospitals that achieve low rates of surgical site infections from those with high infection rates. The length of surgery, along with about half the rate of blood transfusions during surgery, is correlated with infection rates, according to a study in the December 2008 Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

The study examined surgical patient characteristics, processes of care, and operating and structural variables at 33 hospitals nationwide. The 20 hospitals with low infection rates had surgeries that lasted 103 minutes on average, compared with 128 minutes at 13 hospitals with high infection rates. The low-infection hospitals administered blood transfusions in 5.1% of surgeries, while high-infection hospitals did transfusions 9.7% of the time.

Lead author Darrell A. Campbell Jr., MD, said in a statement that doctors and hospitals should aim to finish surgeries more quickly and do fewer blood transfusions. The study also found that low-infection hospitals were smaller, more efficient and had less operating room staff turnover.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2009/01/19/prbf0119.htm.

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