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Posted 23 Jul 2013 in Healthcare Associated Infections

Reducing harm from surgical site infections (SSIs) is the second topic of focus for the Health Quality & Safety Commission’s (the Commission’s) national patient safety campaign Open for better care, and will be promoted from October 2013.

Reduction of SSIs is a key patient safety priority in New Zealand. They can cause serious illness, emotional and financial stress, longer hospital stays, long-term disabilities, and may even result in loss of life.

Over the past year eight district health boards (DHBs) throughout New Zealand have been piloting the Surgical Site Infection Surveillance Programme, a sophisticated patient safety initiative that seeks to reduce harm caused to patients by SSIs. In July 2013, after a successful pilot phase, the programme was rolled out to all remaining DHBs.

The programme, which is one component of the Commission’s infection prevention and control programme and Open for better care, was established to implement an improvement programme that would standardise the collection and reporting of SSIs.

Furthermore, the programme seeks to encourage practice improvements and culture change among hospital health care workers that will better support the prevention of SSIs.

A number of evidence-based interventions designed to prevent SSIs have been identified and will be implemented in stages by DHBs over the next year.

From October 2013 through to March 2014, the Open campaign will highlight and promote some of these key interventions as a way to increase awareness and encourage improvements to practice. Interventions that will be highlighted as part of the Open campaign include:

  • Streamlining the surveillance process.
  • Appropriate use of prophylactic antibiotics (pre, intra, and post operatively): Right time, right drug, right dose.
  • Skin preparation
  • Clipping not shaving.

DHBs are currently implementing the improved surveillance process for hip and knee arthroplasty surgery only. As part of this they are collecting baseline data so that improvements can be monitored. Coronary artery bypass graft and caesarean section surveillance will be incorporated over the next 12 to 24 months.

More information about the SSI focus of the Open campaign will be announced shortly. For more information about the Open campaign visit: For more information about the SSI Surveillance Programme visit: