Surgical site infections

Healthcare acquired infections are infections acquired during treatment. They can be life-threatening, especially for patients with serious pre-existing conditions.

Surgical site infections (SSI) make up a significant number of hospital-acquired infections. They have a significant impact socially, financially and emotionally on the patients who develop them and their families. 

Preventing SSIs is important and we are continually trying to improve aspects of care by:

  • Ensuring that, if required, the surgical site is free of hair by clipping (not shaving or waxing which can cause skin damage)
  • Giving the correct antibiotic and dose at the correct time before surgery begins
  • Only giving antibiotics for a short time after surgery (about 24 hours)
  • Ensuring the skin at the surgical site is cleaned properly before surgery begins

Waikato DHB is participating in the national surgical site infection improvement (SSII) programme which is currently collecting information on all hip and knee joint replacements performed. Infection rates are reported quarterly by DHB and nationally as part of the quality safety markers(external link).

The national SSI programme will be progressing soon to collecting information about cardiac surgery, such as coronary artery bypass graft operations and cardiac valve replacements, which are performed in only five DHBs nationally including Waikato.

Surgical Site Improvement national newsletter - April 2015 [PDF, 96 KB]