Why should you care?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC), Surgical Site Infections (SSIs) are the second leading cause
of Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs) in the U.S., accounting for
17 percent of all HAIs or 300,000 infections among hospitalized patients
each year. A surgical site infection is an infection that occurs
after surgery in the part of the body where the surgery took
Who is impacted?
Most patients who have surgery do not develop an infection.
However, infections occur in up to three out of every 100 patients who
have surgery. The costs per surgical site infection are between
$3,000 – $29,000 depending on the type of procedure and the type of
What does this all mean?
While advances have been made in infection control practices
during patient care and before and/or during surgery, surgical site
infections remain an important cause of surgical complications and
even death among hospitalized patients.
Many hospitals are working to reduce and prevent the number of SSIs
by following CDC guidelines and best practices such as:
- Hand-washing before and after patient care
- Hand-washing and scrubbing procedures prior to surgery
- Cleaning the skin at the site of surgery with special soaps and
dressing practices that kill germs
- Wearing special hair covers, masks, gowns and gloves during
surgery to keep the surgery area clean
- Giving antibiotics before surgery. In most cases, a patient
should receive antibiotics within 60 minutes before the surgery
starts and the antibiotics should be stopped within 24 hours after
Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics has made it a priority
to enhance surgical site infection rate awareness among staff and
families. A hospital committee was formed to determine surgical
site infection best practices and to make sure we provide the best
care to prevent surgical site infections. This committee is
composed of healthcare providers, nurses, and staff who work with
the operating room and during surgical procedures.
Our goal as a hospital is to reduce surgical site infections by 50%
by the end of 2012. The long term goal is to eliminate surgical
site infections or have a ZERO infection rate. Once we have reached
this goal, we will continue to strive to maintain a zero infection
The ultimate goal is to provide the safest environment for
the children cared for in our hospital. By eliminating surgical
site infections we help ensure that our patients will receive the
best surgical care. - Jason Newland,
A surgical site infection is defined as the total number of
surgical site infections divided by the total number of surgeries
that occurred in the month that the surgery was preformed. This can
be given as a percentage or a rate per 100
procedures for a given month. These are divided by type of
For example, in the chart below, the rate of
surgical site infections for August 2011 in Open Heart (Closed
Chest) surgeries was 5.7 because there were 2 infections in the 35
Where can I go for more information?
To learn more about prevention of Surgical Site Infections:
- Centers for Disease Control
- Edwards JR, Peterson KD, Andrus ML, Dudeck MA, Pollock DA,
Horan TC. National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) report, data
summary for 2006 through 2007, issued November 2008. Am J Infect
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Outline for
healthcare associated infection surveillance. Available from: Centers for Disease Control.
Ac-cessed October 5, 2009.
- Horan TC, Andrus M, Dudeck MA. CDC/NHSN surveillance definition
of health care-associated infection and criteria for specific types
of infections in the acute care setting. Am J Infect Control
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. NHSN manual:
patient safety component protocols.
Accessed September 20, 2009]
- Joint Commission