Every time a wound is made during a surgical procedure there is always the risk of developing an infection.

We monitor all coronary artery bypass surgery, hip and knee replacements for wound or surgical site infections in the first couple of months after surgery. These types of infections can have severe consequences for patients as well as lengthen the time it takes to recover from the surgery.

The same definition of infection is used for all hospitals across the state. Surgical site infection can be on the skin surface (superficial) or deep. The Infection Prevention team at RMH is responsible for monitoring and communicating with the care team to determine if an infection has occurred.

Why is this measure important?

It is important to monitor the number of surgical site infections so that we can make sure we have the necessary actions and strategies in place to prevent infections occurring in the future. We benchmark our results with other hospitals which allows us to see how we are doing.

What are we doing to continue to improve?

We review every infection to look for the cause and see if any of our ways of doing things (practices) can be improved. We take steps to make sure staff adhere to the strict infection control policies that help prevent surgical site infections. In these ways we make sure we are delivering high quality care.

How can you help us to prevent surgical site infections?

Performing hand hygiene is important to prevent healthcare associated infections. Patients are encouraged to wash their hands with soap and water or apply the hand rub gel or foam, especially before eating and after using the bathroom. Visitors are also advised to wash their hands or apply the gel or foam before coming into the ward.

Before having surgery, patients may be asked to use an antiseptic body wash and antibiotic nasal cream to reduce the likelihood of infections after surgery. It is very important that patients follow these instructions and let staff know if they were not able to complete them. The staff can then complete the requested steps on admission. Other helpful factors for preventing infection include exercising, as tolerated, reducing alcohol intake and giving up smoking.

We encourage patients not to touch their wounds and while they are in hospital let the nurses know if the dressing becomes loose, wet or if they are concerned in any way. Find about more about your rights and responsibilities as a patient. Your Discharge Letter tells you who to call if you are worried after you have left the hospital.