Background: The incidence of surgical site infections (SSI) is considered increasingly to be an indicator of quality of care. We conducted a study in which daily inspection of the surgical incision was performed by an independent, trained team to monitor the incidence of SSI using U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) definitions, as a gold-standard measure of care. In the department of surgery, two registration systems for SSI were used routinely by the surgeon: An electronic and a plenary tracking system. The results of the independent team were compared with the outcomes provided by two registration systems for SSI, so as to evaluate the reliability of these systems as a possible alternative for indicating quality of care. Methods: The study was an incidence study conducted from May 2007 to January 2009 that included 1,000 adult patients scheduled to undergo open abdominal surgery in an academic teaching hospital. Surgical incisions were inspected daily to check for SSI according to definitions of health care-associated infections established by the CDC. Follow-up after discharge was done at the outpatient clinic of the hospital by telephone or letter in combination with patient diaries and reviews of patient charts, discharge letters, electronic files, and reported complications. Univariate and multivariable analyses were done to identify putative risk factors for missing registrations. Results: Of the 1,000 patients in the study, 33 were not evaluated. Surgical site infections were diagnosed in 26.8% of the 967 remaining patients, of which 18.0% were superficial incisional infections, 5.4% were deep incisional infections, and 3.4% were organ/space infections. More than 60% of SSIs were unreported in either of the department's two tracking systems for such infections. For these two systems, independent major risk factors for missing registrations were (1) the lack of occurrence of an SSI, (2) transplantation surgery, and (3) admission to non-surgical departments. Conclusions: Most SSIs were not tracked with the department's two systems. These systems proved poor alternatives to the gold-standard method of quantifying the incidence of Surgical Site Infection SSI and, therefore, the quality of care. Both protocolized wound assessment and on-site documentation are mandatory for realistic quantification of the incidence of SSI.,
Surgery and Traumatology
Surgical Infections
Department of Neuroscience

van Ramshorst, G., Vos, M., den Hartog, D., Hop, W., Jeekel, H., Hovius, S., & Lange, J. (2013). A comparative assessment of surgeons' tracking methods for surgical site infections. Surgical Infections, 14(2), 181–187. doi:10.1089/sur.2012.045