Surgical Site Infection

Surgical site infections (SSIs) are the most common complication experienced by recovering surgical patients. By concentrating our efforts on four key points of care — antibiotic timing, hair removal, glucose control and recovery temperature — Island Health staff have made significant progress in reducing SSIs.

What are we measuring?

  • The probability of a patient developing a surgical site infection within 30 days after surgery
  • Percentage of surgical cases where infection-preventing antibiotic is administered 60 minutes before surgery

Island Health Success

Since June 2011, staff at Royal Jubilee, Victoria General and Nanaimo Regional General hospitals have been involved in the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP). This program helps sites to collect data and identify where surgery practice could be improved. Along with NSQIP participation at the three largest Island Health sites, staff at smaller sites are participating in a similar assessment program through Safer Healthcare Now!

The valuable information collected has already led to some important changes that help prevent SSIs. Some are as simple as having our thermometers calibrated to ensure an accurate temperature reading from recovering patients, while others are practice-related, such as making sure patients are getting the right antibiotic at the right time. For example, in November 2011, research showed that 75% of colorectal surgery patients were being administered antibiotic early enough. By April 2012, that number had risen to 100%.

Staff are also working hard to educate patients about preventing surgical site infections, recommending they avoid practices like performing their own pre-surgery hair removal. Once patients have been discharged, care providers check in with patients under a 30-day follow-up program to make sure all necessary steps have been taken to prevent infection.

Learn More from the BC Patient Safety & Quality Council.

BCPSQC Surgical Site Infection Backgrounder (PDF)