Veterinary Clinics and Hospitals

Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are common in veterinary clinics and hospitals, with the most common type occurring postoperatively in animals that have undergone surgical procedures, often those that include implants. Surgical site infections (SSIs) occurring in veterinary surgery can result in prolonged hospital stays and grossly affect patient outcomes.

HAIs can also arise from endogenous or exogenous sources. Endogenous sources in the animal population is not unusual as animal patients become infected with their own bacterial flora, particularly when their normal flora is disturbed and becomes unbalanced as a result of antibiotic use. In particular, the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics can have negative effects on the patients. Exogenous sources can predispose animals undergoing surgery or other types of veterinary care from sources outside the body, including lack of sterility when preparing patients for invasive procedures, lack of effective hand hygiene, lack of effective reprocessing of devices and lack of effective environmental cleaning. The most common infection causing bacteria include Enterococcus spp., E. coli, Staphylococcus spp., Enterobacter spp., Klebsiella spp., Acinetobacter spp. and Pseudomonas spp. Other healthcare infections may occur in animals, but SSIs remain the most common. Not only are SSIs painful and dangerous for animals and expensive to treat, cost limitations can result in euthanasia if owners cannot afford to pay for the extended hospitalization and antimicrobial treatment.

“Best practices” for prevention of infections in animals is very similar to human patients, and guidelines followed by hospitals and outpatient surgery centers are applicable to veterinary practices. Universal key points for infection control include appropriate hand hygiene, skin prep, central reprocessing and cleaning protocols.

Infection Control Consulting Services (ICCS) provides services to veterinary clinics and hospitals by highly skilled consultants, including on-site visits to assess best practices, review of information related to documented or possible infections and assistance with identifying issues and improving practice.  In addition,  ICCS provides staff education and development of comprehensive written infection prevention plans, policies and procedures.

If you are experiencing issues with infections in veterinary surgery or are interested in improving your processes and procedures and would like to learn how ICCS can help, please contact us for a complimentary telephone consultation.