Surgical site infection surveillance saves lives, but theatre staff need to take a more proactive role, says Pauline Harrington, National surgical site infection surveillance manager at Public Health England. Louise Frampton reports.
Speaking at Salford Professional Development’s Operating Theatres Conference, Pauline Harrington, National surgical site infection (SSI) surveillance manager, Public Health England, asked delegates if they were aware of National SSI surveillance. Despite this being mandated for the NHS since 1997, only a handful of delegates were aware of this activity being undertaken at their Trusts. As this is a key performance indicator for hospital theatres, it appears there is still more work to be done in communicating SSI rates back to the perioperative teams who ultimately impact these outcomes. Last year (2018/19) seven high outlier notifications were sent out for mandatory surveillance categories (four for knee replacement, two for hip replacement and one for repair of neck of femur). Perioperative teams at these outlying Trusts would have become acutely aware of the National surveillance scheme.
“Patients die from SSI and we know it is avoidable,” commented Pauline. “A key factor in prevention is surveillance. By looking for SSI, you can identify the problem and address it… The purpose is to improve patient care.”
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