It is time to defne an organizational model for the prevention and management of infections along the surgical pathway: a worldwide cross-sectional survey

Background: The objectives of the study were to investigate the organizational characteristics of acute care facilities worldwide in preventing and managing infections in surgery; assess participants’ perception regarding infection prevention and control (IPC) measures, antibiotic prescribing practices, and source control; describe awareness about the global burden of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and IPC measures; and determine the role of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 pandemic on said awareness.

Methods: A cross-sectional web-based survey was conducted contacting 1432 health care workers (HCWs) belonging to a mailing list provided by the Global Alliance for Infections in Surgery. The self-administered questionnaire was developed by a multidisciplinary team. The survey was open from May 22, 2021, and June 22, 2021. Three reminders were sent, after 7, 14, and 21 days.

Results: Three hundred four respondents from 72 countries returned a questionnaire, with an overall response rate of 21.2%. Respectively, 90.4% and 68.8% of participants stated their hospital had a multidisciplinary IPC team or a multidisciplinary antimicrobial stewardship team. Local protocols for antimicrobial therapy of surgical infections and protocols for surgical antibiotic prophylaxis were present in 76.6% and 90.8% of hospitals, respectively. In 23.4% and 24.0% of hospitals no surveillance systems for surgical site infections and no monitoring systems of used antimicrobials were implemented. Patient and family involvement in IPC management was considered to be slightly or not important in their hospital by the majority of respondents (65.1%). Awareness of the global burden of AMR among HCWs was considered very important or important by 54.6% of participants. The COVID-19 pandemic was considered by 80.3% of respondents as a very important or important factor in raising HCWs awareness of the IPC programs in their hospital. Based on the survey results, the authors developed 15 statements for several questions regarding the prevention and management of infections in surgery. The statements may be the starting point for designing future evidence-based recommendations.

Conclusion: Adequacy of prevention and management of infections in acute care facilities depends on HCWs behaviours and on the organizational characteristics of acute health care facilities to support best practices and promote behavioural change. Patient involvement in the implementation of IPC is still little considered. A debate on how operationalising a fundamental change to IPC, from being solely the HCWs responsibility to one that involves a collaborative relationship between HCWs and patients, should be opened.

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