Adopt a Zero-tolerance Mindset This International Infection Prevention Week: All Surgery-related Infections Should be Considered Preventable

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GoranGoran Ribaric, Regional Safety Officer, Europe, Middle East & Africa, Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies Devices Companies

Healthcare is a safety critical industry, as much as aviation, nuclear and oil industries. Yet, in a world where medical knowledge doubles every few months, it is difficult to accept that there are still around 4.8 billion people in the world who do not have access to safe surgery, as reported in The Lancet Global Surgery Report 2030.  

This is particularly concerning as our population is growing and growing older. It’s expected that the number of people aged 60 and older will more than double by 2050 and triple by 2100. There are 227 ‘high risk’ operations that carry a 1% or greater operative mortality for patients aged 65 and older, with 500,000+ patients aged 66 and older undergoing these operations annually[1].

With operations comes the potential risk of surgical-site infections. It is estimated that 40%-60% may be preventable however[2], if we are taking a proactive ‘future of surgery’ mindset, shouldn’t ALL surgery-related infections be considered preventable? This was one of the questions that our media partners Clinical Services Journal asked a series of infection prevention and patient safety thought leaders last month.

To mark International Infection Prevention Week (October 14-20), these expert interviews have been published in a supplement entitled ‘Through the Looking Glass: A World Without Surgery-related Infections’. Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies supported the creation of this thought leadership asset because we consider putting fuel behind the infection prevention debate as not optional, but essential for patient safety and value-based healthcare.   

To read the full collection of thought leader interviews, outlining the latest and greatest perspectives in best practice, visit the Clinical Service Journal website.

Our longstanding industry mission to deliver value at every stage of the care pathway means undergoing a medical procedure today has never been safer. Improvements in procedure efficiency, simplification and standardization, supplemented by clinician education and patient engagement, is improving predictive patient outcomes every day.

  • Through standardisation, we help reduce variability in surgical procedures, ensuring important safety checks are completed every time, in the same order, and all supporting processes are harmonized to reduce risk and improve safety.
  • Through training and education, we improve safety and outcomes even before a surgeon picks up a scalpel
  • Through innovation and reimagination, we take our products and solutions beyond their primary function with value-enhancing safety and infection-reduction features.

We have made great strides but there are still mountains to climb and discoveries to be made. While infection prevention still impacts patient outcomes and satisfaction, it must remain front and centre of our agenda to bring even greater value to patients and healthcare systems.

Though focusing on solutions not barriers, we will set our sights on insight-driven innovation that is built on a solid evidence-base. Only then, can we make what might seem impossible today, into the new standard of surgical safety tomorrow. Revolutionary introductions – such as laparoscopic surgery – had to be thought about to be brought about. So, let’s elevate the debate and take the urgent steps needed to make all surgery-related infections preventable.


[1]Margaret L. et al. What is High Risk Surgery? Development of a List of High Risk Operations for Patients Age 65 and Older. JAMA Surg. 2015 Apr 1;150(4):325–331. Available at: Last accessed September 2018.

[2]Najjar, P.A and Smink, D.S. Prophylactic Antibiotics and Prevention of Surgical Site Infections (2015). Surg Clin N Am 95. 269–283. Available at: Last accessed: October 2018   




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