Infection Presented at the Academic Surgical Congress 2020| Volume 168, ISSUE 4, P753-759, October 2020

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National trends in postoperative infections across surgical specialties



      Despite the introduction of several measures to reduce incidence, postoperative infections have been reported to increase. We aimed to assess trends in the incidence and impact of postoperative infections using a recent national cohort.


      Patients undergoing the most commonly performed elective inpatient procedures in 9 surgical specialties were identified from the 2006 to 2014 National Inpatient Sample. Diagnostic coding was utilized to identify patients with postoperative infections. To adjust for patient and operative differences in assessing outcomes, an inverse probability of treatment weighing protocol was used.


      Of an estimated 23,696,588 patients, 1,213,182 (5.1%) developed postoperative infections. Skin and soft tissue operations had the highest burden (12.9%) and endocrine the lowest (1.3%). During the study period, we found decreasing incidence, case fatality, and incremental cost of postoperative infections. Infection was associated with increased in-hospital mortality (1.4 vs 0.4%, P < .001), duration of stay (7.6 vs 3.7 days, P < .001), and costs ($27,597 vs $17,985, P < .001). Annually, postoperative infections led to an average incremental cost burden exceeding $700 million in the United States alone.


      During the study period there was a substantial decrease in the burden of postoperative infections. Despite encouraging trends, postoperative infections continue to serve as a suitable quality improvement target, particularly in specialties with a high burden of infections.
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