Surgical site infections (SSI) are associated with substantial morbidity, mortality, and economic costs to New Zealand’s health care system.
SSI are the second most common healthcare associated infection (HAI) after infections of the urinary tract, and occur in two to five percent of patients undergoing surgical procedures (Roy, 2003).
Of all HAIs, SSIs have the greatest impact on length of stay. On average, SSIs prolong a patient’s hospital stay by 7.4 days, at a cost of $1000 per day (Roy, 2003). SSI reduction is, therefore, a key priority for the New Zealand health and disability sector.
A significant proportion of SSI are considered preventable. However, there is currently no standardised national approach towards the prevention of SSIs in New Zealand.
The Health Quality & Safety Commission (the Commission) has launched a flagship programme aimed at reducing SSI rates. The national Surgical Site Infection Surveillance (SSIS) programme will be delivered by a joint lead agency – Auckland and Canterbury district health boards (DHBs) – in partnership with the Commission.
DHBs throughout New Zealand are participating in the development of a consistent, evidence-based approach to preventing SSIs. This programme will give health care professionals access to verifiable information to drive practice change and continuous quality improvement, as well as contributing to national and international efforts to improve patient safety.
Championing the SSI programme nationally and locally (ie, at DHB level) are a range of clinical leaders including surgeons, microbiologists, perioperative nurses and infection prevention control practitioners. Their support and input is pivotal to the success of the programme.
Year one of the programme will focus on the surveillance of hip and knee surgeries. A development (pilot) phase will commence in March 2013 and national roll-out is anticipated in July 2013.
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