A targeted e-learning program for surgical trainees to enhance patient safety in preventing surgical infection.
INTRODUCTION: Surgical site infection accounts for 20% of all health care-associated infections (HCAIs); however, a program incorporating the education of surgeons has yet to be established across the specialty.
METHODS: An audit of surgical practice in infection prevention was carried out in Beaumont Hospital from July to November 2009. An educational Web site was developed targeting deficiencies highlighted in the audit. Interactive clinical cases were constructed using PHP coding, an HTML-embedded language, and then linked to a MySQL relational database. PowerPoint tutorials were produced as online Flash audiovisual movies. An online repository of streaming videos demonstrating best practice was made available, and weekly podcasts were made available on the iTunes© store for free download. Usage of the e-learning program was assessed quantitatively over 6 weeks in May and June 2010 using the commercial company Hitslink.
RESULTS: During the 5-month audit, deficiencies in practice were highlighted, including the timing of surgical prophylaxis (33% noncompliance) and intravascular catheter care in surgical patients (38% noncompliance regarding necessity). Over the 6-week assessment of the educational material, the SurgInfection.com Web pages were accessed more than 8000 times; 77.9% of the visitors were from Ireland. The most commonly accessed modality was the repository with interactive clinical cases, accounting for 3463 (43%) of the Web site visits. The average user spent 57 minutes per visit, with 30% of them visiting the Web site multiple times.
DISCUSSION: Interactive virtual cases mirroring real-life clinical scenarios are likely to be successful as an e-learning modality. User-friendly interfaces and 24-hour accessibility will increases uptake by surgical trainees.