Cost-Effective to Routinely Change Surgical Gloves and Instruments as Well as Being Safer

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Surgeons who routinely change surgical gloves and instruments are incurring similar costs to those using the same equipment, a new study has found.

The economic evaluation funded by the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) follows a clinical trial conducted at 80 hospitals in Benin, Ghana, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Rwanda, and South Africa which established that routine change of gloves and instruments reduces surgical site infections (SSIs) by 13%.

The evaluation, published by the Lancet Global Health, serves as a follow-up to a clinical trial to assess the economic implications of implementing the findings from the trial. It compares the costs and SSIs associated with routine change of gloves and instruments versus current surgical practice of not changing them.

Ensuring healthcare interventions are cost-effective

Among the seven low and middle-income countries that took part in the ChEETAh clinical trial, the economic evaluation calculated that on average the cost of the intervention of US$259∙92 compared with $261∙10 for current practice of reusing gloves and instruments.

Lowering SSIs not only minimises patient recovery time but also significantly alleviates financial burdens

Lead author Mr Mwayi Kachapila

Lead author Mr Mwayi Kachapila, a Health Economist from the University of Birmingham, said:

“It is very important for healthcare programmes to be both effective and cost-effective. SSIs are associated with high treatment costs especially in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs) and this intervention will go a long way to reduce the cost burden to patients, healthcare systems, and societies.

“Lowering SSIs not only minimises patient recovery time but also significantly alleviates financial burdens, especially in LMICs where patients often bear the cost of their treatment. Additionally, this initiative aids in freeing up hospital bed space.”

Tracy Roberts, Professor of Health Economics at the University of Birmingham who oversaw the economic evaluation said:

“In resource constrained settings, relatively small shifts in routines and practices can have wide and important benefits when there is a generated saving in resource that can be used elsewhere. The paper shows how the simple modelling of the alternative approaches with their respective costs, can prove useful to decision makers.

“This is particularly beneficial when trial cost data are insufficient, incorporating relevant data from the literature can enhance robustness of the analysis.”

  • For media enquiries please contact Tim Mayo, Press Office, University of Birmingham, tel: +44 (0)7815 607157.

  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions. Its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers, teachers and more than 8,000 international students from over 150 countries.

  • The University of Birmingham is a founding member of Birmingham Health Partners (BHP), a strategic alliance which transcends organisational boundaries to rapidly translate healthcare research findings into new diagnostics, drugs and devices for patients. Birmingham Health Partners is a strategic alliance between seven organisations who collaborate to bring healthcare innovations through to clinical application:
    • University of Birmingham
    • University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
    • Birmingham Women's and Children's Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
    • Aston University
    • The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
    • Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust
    • West Midlands Academic Health Science Network
    • Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust
  • About the National Institute for Health and Care Research

    The mission of the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) is to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. We do this by:

    • Funding high quality, timely research that benefits the NHS, public health and social care;
    • Investing in world-class expertise, facilities and a skilled delivery workforce to translate discoveries into improved treatments and services;
    • Partnering with patients, service users, carers and communities, improving the relevance, quality and impact of our research;
    • Attracting, training and supporting the best researchers to tackle complex health and social care challenges;
    • Collaborating with other public funders, charities and industry to help shape a cohesive and globally competitive research system;
    • Funding applied global health research and training to meet the needs of the poorest people in low and middle income countries.

    NIHR is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. Its work in low and middle income countries is principally funded through UK Aid from the UK government.

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