National Metrics Improved Timeliness of Antibiotic Administration for Open Extremity Fractures

Alvin K. Shieh, Justin F. Lucas, Trevor J. Shelton, Aaron J. Wright, Robert J Steffner, Philip R. Wolinsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


INTRODUCTION: Antibiotics have been shown to be an essential component in the treatment of open extremity fractures. The American College of Surgeons' Trauma Quality Improvement Program, based on a committee of physician leaders including orthopaedic trauma surgeons, publishes best-practice guidelines for the management of open fractures. Accordingly, it established the tracking of antibiotic timing as a metric with a plan to use that metric before trauma center site reviews. Our hypothesis was that this physician-led effort at the national level would provide the necessary incentive to effect change within our institution. METHODS: A retrospective review of all patients treated at our institution for open extremity fractures was performed over 3 periods separated by 2 quality initiatives. The first initiative was an institution-driven effort to increase awareness and educate specific departments about the importance of prompt antibiotic administration. The second initiative was the tracking of antibiotic order and administration times with quarterly audits following newly published guidelines. RESULTS: Neither antibiotic order placement within 1 hour nor administration within 1 hour improved after our first institution-specific initiative. Both outcome measures significantly improved after the second quality initiative, as did median times from arrival to antibiotic order and administration. CONCLUSIONS: Metrics developed and measured by a physician-led national organization led to practice changes at our hospital. Tracking of antibiotic timing for open fracture treatment was more effective than institutional education of healthcare providers alone. This study suggests that nationally published guidelines, developed and measured by physician leaders, will be found to be relevant by other physicians and can be a powerful tool to drive change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)437-441
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of orthopaedic trauma
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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