Reducing Colorectal Surgical Site Infections: Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare and Cleveland Clinic to Reveal New Findings, Insights to Medline Product Developers and Hospital Leaders

MUNDELEIN, Ill.--()--Surgical site infections (SSI) continue to remain a national healthcare issue, raising costs due to prolonged hospitalization, additional diagnostic tests, treatment, and sometimes additional surgery. In fact, research suggests that SSIs can extend hospitals stays by 7-10 days and cost $27,402 per incident, accounting for up to $10 billion annually in health care spending.

That’s why Medline is working in partnership with the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare and Cleveland Clinic to share the latest SSI findings with healthcare leaders and medical device and clinical solution developers. The goal: uncover some of today’s real problems and barriers to spark serious dialogue and solutions.

“At Medline, we’re committed to developing and improving medical devices and clinical solutions that advance healthcare,” says Sue MacInnes, chief market solutions officer, Medline, and member of the Joint Commission’s Leadership Advisory Council. “We work side-by-side with healthcare’s greatest thought leaders to help solve problems – it’s our strength to collaborate, innovate and create solutions. We are honored to have this opportunity to work with the Joint Commission and Cleveland Clinic to uncover new ways to reduce SSIs.”

Coleen Smith, director of high reliability initiatives for the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare, and Brad Schwartz, senior project manager of quality improvement for the Cleveland Clinic’s Quality and Patient Safety Institute, presented findings from The Reducing Colorectal Surgical Site Infections (SSI) project. This collaborative study was led by the American College of Surgeons and the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare with seven leading U.S. hospitals, including Cleveland Clinic. The study focused on improving care for colorectal surgical patients, from preadmission to 30-days post-surgery and used Lean Six Sigma and change management methods to understand why infections were occurring at their facilities and how to prevent them.

“Reducing surgical site infections is an industry issue. Healthcare leaders teaming up with medical suppliers to develop products and clinical solutions that reduce the spread of infection before and during a procedure is the right thing to do,” says Smith. ”This has been an outstanding exchange of insight and ideas. We look forward to continued support and engagement with companies like Medline to help drive and support meaningful SSI prevention initiatives,” says Smith.

Project Results

After two-and-a-half years, participating hospitals in the Reducing Colorectal Surgical Site Infections project experienced the following results:

  • A 45 percent reduction in superficial incisional SSIs
  • A 32 percent reduction in colorectal SSIs
  • Estimated cost savings of more than $3.7 million for the 135 estimated colorectal SSIs avoided during the project period.
  • The average length of stay for hospital patients with any type of colorectal SSI decreased from an average of 15 days to 13 days.

Contributing Factors and Targeted Solutions

The research also revealed factors that contribute to surgical process failure and new ways to reduce these occurrences:

  • Inconsistent wound management increased risks of SSIs and delayed wound healing. Patients don’t understand dressing requirements and need clear instructions. Order standardization for OR wound dressings can help create consistency.
  • Failure to perform hand hygiene by staff and patient or caregiver increased risk of developing SSIs. At preadmission and postoperatively, provide patient and caregiver with a “Reducing Your Risk of SSI” pamphlet or other education about personal hand hygiene.
  • Inconsistent and incomplete application of required preoperative skin cleaning product by patients and caregivers. Standardize preoperative educational materials for surgery preparation and SSI prevention to share with physician clinics, preadmission testing and preoperative areas. Staff should also provide instructions to patients and caregivers about applying preoperative skin cleaning products.

According to the Joint Commission, by using the methods, solutions and lessons learned through the SSI project, approximately 30,420 infections for colorectal surgeries can be prevented with an annual savings of up to $834 million. That’s why it was important to Medline, a global manufacturer and distributor providing medical supplies and clinical solutions, to create this unique forum to connect its program developers with healthcare leaders and industry experts.

Learn more about the latest findings at or join the conversation at

About Medline

Medline is a global manufacturer and distributor serving the healthcare industry with medical supplies and clinical solutions that help customers achieve both clinical and financial success. Headquartered in Mundelein, Ill., the company offers 350,000+ medical devices and support services through more than 1,200 direct sales representatives who are dedicated points of contact for customers across the continuum of care. For more information on Medline, go to or to connect with Medline on its social media channels.

About the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare

Created in 2008 as a nonprofit affiliate of The Joint Commission, the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare aims to solve health care’s most critical safety and quality problems. The Center’s participants – some of the nation’s leading hospitals and health systems – use a systematic approach to analyze specific breakdowns in care and discover their underlying causes to develop targeted solutions that solve these complex problems. In keeping with its objective to transform health care into a high reliability industry, The Joint Commission shares these proven, effective solutions with the nearly 21,000 health care organizations it accredits and certifies. Health care organizations have made significant advances in quality – and even better results are now achievable. Health care organizations and The Joint Commission are working together to improve systems and processes of care. Learn more about the Center at


Vivika Panagiotakakos, (847) 643-3311

Release Summary

Medline partnered with the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare and Cleveland Clinic to share the latest SSI findings.


Vivika Panagiotakakos, (847) 643-3311