How a Virginia ASC achieved zero SSIs 4 years in a row: 3 Qs with nurse Robin Williamson

A report published earlier this month from the Duke Infection Control Outreach Network found zero instances of surgical site infections at MEDARVA Stony Point Surgery Center in Richmond, Va., for two of the procedures its surgeons perform. This is the fourth consecutive year the ASC has reported zero SSIs.

DICON, which performs data analyses on infection control and prevention programs, studied breast and abdominal hysterectomy surgeries at Stony Point Surgery Center, and found no instances of SSIs for either procedure.

Robin Williamson, RN, associate director of clinical services and infection prevention for Stony Point Surgery Center, spoke with Becker's ASC Review about the ASC's infection control program and what other centers can learn from it.

Note: Responses have been lightly edited for style and clarity.

Question: What infection control policies has your ASC implemented to achieve zero SSIs for two procedures, four years in a row?

Robin Williamson: At MEDARVA Surgery Centers, we don't have infection control policies specific to certain procedures — our policies are implemented across the board for all surgeries. We do implement annual and periodic trainings for staff as refreshers or reminders. These might include techniques such as safe injection practices, sterile technique practices, wearing proper surgical attire and using personal protection equipment, along with other training techniques.

Q: For other ASCs looking improve SSI rates, where do you recommend they start?

RW: It's good to start with the basics such as due diligence with hand hygiene, sterile technique, environmental cleaning, proper decontamination and sterilization of instruments. People sometimes forget that it's helpful to limit the time prior to surgery and the time post-surgery because the more time that passes, the more chance for an infection. Lastly, ensure that your onboarding process for new employees takes the time to include infection prevention training and policies.

Q: How do you hope to refine infection control policies moving forward?

RW: It's best for ASCs to continue to review their policies on an annual basis, and more often if needed, to see if changes are necessary. Or, if something comes up that warrants a change being made, make that change as soon as possible and train staff on what has changed and why.

It is also important for the ASC employees and physicians to be aware of the important role each individual plays in the control of infections and transmission of communicable diseases. If you are sick, stay home!

The key to success is making sure there's a team effort when it comes to infection control and prevention. Whether it's nurses, physicians, central sterile technicians, environmental services or other members of the team, we all have to work together with the patient as our top priority.

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