Surgical Site Infection (SSI) Prevention

Health care associated infections are infections that patients may sometimes get when admitted to a hospital.

A surgical site infection (SSI) occurs at the site of a surgical incision. Germs can get into the incision area, and cause an infection. It can develop within 30 days of an operation, or sometimes even up to one year if an implant (such as a knee or hip joint implant) is used. Infections happen because germs are everywhere – on the skin, in the air and on things individuals touch. Most infections are caused by germs found on and in a patient’s body.

Infections can be minor or occasionally they can increase complications that result in a longer length of stay in the hospital, or an increased readmission rate for patients. Postoperative SSIs are the most common health care-associated infections in surgical patients.

Patient safety remains the most important priority for the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre and this involves ensuring that patients are not at risk for contracting health care-associated infections. To improve patient safety, TBRHSC is participating in a couple of provincial initiatives; ‘Safer Healthcare Now’ and the Institute for Healthcare Improvements (IHI) have shared with hospitals a set of best practices in the form of “SSI bundles”. These bundles are a collection of best practices (for example, administration of prophylactic antibiotics, clipping and not shaving of body hair, etc.) that when used together, can reduce the chances of a patient contracting a surgical site infection.

Patients can help reduce the risk for infections by following pre-operative instructions given by the surgeon and health care team. Frequent hand cleaning is another way to prevent the spread of infection. Hand hygiene involves everyone in the hospital including patients.

Hospital SSI-Prevention provides one measure of patient safety and quality of care. The information gathered will assist hospitals with evaluating the effectiveness of their infection prevention and control interventions and make further improvements based on this information. The initial data reported is for hip and knee surgeries as these are common surgeries in hospitals. The SSI-Prevention percentages will be post quarterly.

Calculation of Surgical Site Infection Prevention Rate

Total number of patients whose antibiotic was administered
within appropriate time prior to skin incision
Total number of patients during the reporting month who had
a primary knee/hip joint replacement surgical procedure

(the acceptable time frame is within 60 minutes for all antibiotics except vancomycin which is within 120 minutes of skin incision)