Surgical site infection


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A surgical site infection (SSI) is an infection that occurs after surgery in the part of the body where the surgery was performed. SSI may be superficial, involving the skin only, or more serious, involving tissues under the skin, organs, or implanted material. SSI is one of the most common healthcare associated infections (HAI) and can have serious consequences for patients as they can result in pain, suffering and in some cases require additional surgical intervention.

The Scottish SSI surveillance programme was established in 2002 to estimate the risk of infection after specific procedures. Currently four surgical procedures are mandatory for inclusion within SSI surveillance:

  • hip arthroplasty
  • caesarean section
  • planned large bowel surgery
  • planned major vascular surgery

As part of the programme, we carry out analysis of the data, report SSI incidence and trends for the mandatory procedures throughout Scotland and work with NHS boards to reduce SSI risk. SSI surveillance for planned large bowel and vascular procedures started in April 2017 and will not be  included within the quarterly epidemiological commentary until we have robust data collection in place for all NHS boards.


Compendium of Healthcare Associated Infections (HAI)

The HAI Compendium contains links to:

  • current national policy and guidance on HAI
  • antimicrobial prescribing and resistance
  • decontamination
  • other related topics

Data and surveillance

Quarterly epidemiological data commentaries

The commentaries contain quarterly epidemiological data by NHS board and nationally for Scotland jointly for:

  • Clostridioides difficile infection
  • Escherichia coli bacteraemia
  • Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia
  • surgical site infection

Read the latest commentary on quarterly epidemiological data in Scotland:

View all previous quarterly epidemiological reports

Surveillance protocol

Educational resources

In collaboration with NHS Education for Scotland (NES) we’ve developed a range of educational resources to improve practice in diagnosis and reporting of SSI and understand the health implications for the patient.