Surgical Site Infections

A surgical site infection (SSI) is an infection that occurs within 30 days of a surgery, in the area of the body where the surgery was performed. Strategies to prevent SSIs are focused on best-evidence practices for patient care before, during, and after the surgical procedure. The only SSIs that are publically reported are those that occur following abdominal hysterectomy and colon surgery.

How does UAB Medicine perform?

Standardized infection ratio (SIR) is a number used to measure, track, and compare health care-associated infections (HAIs) among different health care settings and providers. This number compares the actual number of HAIs at each health care setting to the predicted number of infections based upon the type of patients treated in that particular health care setting. The national standard for the SIR is 1. Numbers greater than 1 indicate that the medical center is associated with more HAIs than predicted, while numbers smaller than 1 indicate that the medical center is associated with fewer HAIs than predicted.

Safe Care Measures National Benchmark for SIR UAB SIR Comparison Analysis
Surgical site Infection from abdominal hysterectomy 1.0 1.605  
Surgical site Infection from colon surgery 1.0 0.784  

What is UAB Medicine doing to improve?

It has been estimated that up to half of the SSIs that occur in the United States could be prevented using evidence-based strategies. According to the latest CDC guidelines, important tools in preventing surgical site infections include:

  • Providing patients with antimicrobial soap and instructions to bathe the night before surgery.
  • Using IV antibiotics, when appropriate, at the right time, and only when necessary.
  • Using alcohol-based agents to clean the skin before the surgery.
  • Maintaining the patient’s blood sugar within target levels.

UAB Medicine uses all of these precautions to decrease surgical site infection.

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