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The term ‘surgical site infection’ (SSI) was introduced in 1992 to replace the previous term ‘surgical wound infection’. SSIs are defined as infections occurring within 30 days after a surgical operation (or within one year if an implant is left in place after the procedure) and affecting either the incision, deep tissue or organ space at the operation site. These infections may be superficial or deep incisional infections, or infections involving organs or body spaces.



SSIs remain a major cause of morbidity and mortality comprising of 20% of all healthcare-associated infections and at least 5% of all patients undergoing surgery develop an SSI despite improvements in infection control techniques and surgical practice, and impose substantial demands on healthcare resources. Continuing vigilance is therefore required to minimise the incidence of such infections. This requires a systematic approach as the majority of surgical site infections are preventable in relation to the patient, the procedure, and the hospital environment. It is important that healthcare professionals adhere to best practice to prevent and manage surgical site infection.


Policy Details

Download: PDF version
Compiled by: The Infection Control Team
Ratified by: Divisional Management Board
Date Ratified: April 2021
Date Issued: April 2021
Review Date: April 2023
Target Audience: All staff
Contact name: Ann Birler, Nurse Consultant / Deputy Director of Infection Prevention and Control