Ask the Care Expert about ... ABSSSI

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Sherrie Dornberger, RN, CDONA, FACDONA, Executive Director, NADONA
Sherrie Dornberger, RN, CDONA, FACDONA, Executive Director, NADONA

What is an ABSSSI? Doctors have been writing this as diagnosis on our post-acute residents.

A skin and skin structure infection (SSSI), also or formally referred to as skin and soft tissue infection (SSTI) or acute bacterial skin and skin structure infection (ABSSSI), is an infection of skin and associated soft tissues (such as loose connective tissue and mucous membranes), some with resistance to previously effective antimicrobials. 

 Abscesses, infected wounds and cellulitis all fall into the category of ABSSSI. Major cutaneous abscesses have a minimum lesion surface area of approximately 75 cm, according to the FDA. There are many ways to treat ABSSSI as both an outpatient and inpatient treatment depending on the severity of the infection and the fragility of the resident.

A standard, consistent and multidisciplinary approach to ABSSSI can streamline care, reduce admissions, support antimicrobial stewardship and improve clinical and resource consumption outcomes.

Common bacterial pathogens causing ABSSSI are Streptococcus pyogenes and Staphylococcus aureus including methicillin-resistant S. aureus. Less common causes include other Streptococcus species, Enterococcus faecalis, or Gram-Negative bacteria. 

A sufficiently large lesion size also differentiates between a minor cutaneous abscess (smaller than approximately 75 cm2) and a major cutaneous abscess (greater than approximately 75 cm2).  This distinction is important, because there appears to be insufficient information to reliably estimate a quantitative treatment effect of an antibacterial drug for patients who have surgical incision and drainage for a minor cutaneous abscess, according to the FDA.