Healthcare Associated Infection (HCAI) is recognised as an important issue not only by those who work in the NHS but increasingly by the general public. There are few days that pass without the media highlighting concerns about HCAI. Surgical site infection (SSI) is one of the most common HCAI, resulting in an average additional hospital stay of 6.5 days and cost of treatment of £3246 per patient.
The costs are three fold: the hospital and community healthcare providers in terms of the additional financial costs in treating the infection and the patient in terms of quality of life issues.
The impact of an SSI following prosthetic implant, to the individual patient, can be devastating in terms of the pain, suffering, immobility, longer lengths of stay in hospital and slow return to work and social activities. SSI is therefore an important outcome measure for orthopaedic procedures and it is on this basis that surveillance of orthopaedic SSI is prioritised for mandatory surveillance in the UK.
The Pan Celtic collaboration is a major UK initiative involving hospitals from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The first report from the Pan Celtic surveillance programme was produced in March 2004 and covered orthopaedic procedures carried out between 2001 and 2003. This second report presents the results of the analysis of data including procedures carried out in 2004.
The report incorporates data collected by clinical teams in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales; utilising standard internationally agreed definitions and provides a database, which is compatible with European initiatives. The links with the other parts of the United Kingdom, Europe and with the wider international community through the Pan Celtic collaboration will accelerate the achievement of an understanding of the complexities of SSI. As the surveillance data accumulates, the opportunities to inform good practice will be increased, ensuring where possible that data from surveillance are translated into improvements in clinical practice, the identification of emerging hazards and the review of structural change, new technologies and changing clinical procedures. This will be an important and exciting part of future Pan Celtic collaborative work towards reducing the risks of SSI following orthopaedic surgery and enhancing patient safety in the UK.