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Surgical Site Infection Prevention

All Ontario hospitals that perform hip and/or knee joint replacement surgeries are required to publicly report their quarterly surgical site infection prevention percentages. The goal of this indicator is to ensure that antibiotics are given to patients within a certain time just before surgery, which is one of the most important steps in preventing surgical site infections.  The Quinte Health percentages can be viewed on the Health Quality Ontario website.

The surgical site infection prevention percentage is calculated as the number of hip/knee joint replacement surgeries who received usual antibiotics within 60 minutes of skin incision, plus the number of hip/knee joint replacement surgeries who received vancomycin within 120 minutes of skin incision, divided by the total number of patients during the reporting period who had a primary knee/hip joint replacement surgical procedure.

Hospitals are not reporting actual surgical site infections. The public reporting of this indicator will reveal the percent of all eligible patients who get antibiotics at the right time, just before a "first time" joint replacement surgery.  If a patient has had a revision or "re-do", this will not be included in the data.

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care also reports the information for all hospitals on its website at www.ontario.ca/patientsafety.

Surgical Site Infection Q&As

What is a surgical site infection?

A surgical site infection 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 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. Post-operative surgical site infections are the most common health care-associated infections in surgical patients.

How do patients get a surgical site infection?

There are various factors that could put a patient at risk of an surgical site infections. For example, patients that have poor circulation, certain medical conditions, or shave themselves before surgery (this causes little nicks and cuts in the skin where germs can enter) have an increased risk of infection.

To try to reduce the number of surgical site infections, Safer Healthcare Now! and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement have shared with hospitals a set of best practices in the form of "surgical site infections 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 getting a surgical site infection.

Quinte Health is committed to keeping our patients as safe as possible from infection. We are incorporating these Safer Healthcare Now! best practices to reduce surgical site infections.

What can patients do to help reduce their chances of infection?

Follow the pre-operation instructions given to you by your 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. Click here for more information about hand hygiene.

Click here to read a fact sheet on surgical site infection prevention from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.