Thank you for printing our content at
This site is archived and is no longer updated.

Please visit for up­-to-­date information from the Health Quality & Safety Commission.

Posted 3 Dec 2013 in Healthcare Associated Infections

This is the story of Douglas, who developed a surgical site infection following knee replacement surgery.

Douglas is likely to be on antibiotics indefinitely to stave off several surgical site infections (SSIs) that developed following knee replacement surgery.

Douglas (not his real name), 75, went to his GP a week after his operation when he noticed his wound was bleeding through its dressing. His GP sent him to hospital, where he had the wound cleaned out.

He was discharged three days later and was able to walk on crutches after just a few days. His mobility continued to improve until three months later, when the leg became swollen and uncomfortable.

Douglas was told he had developed an SSI and would need to have the artificial joint replaced. He spent just over a week in hospital, where the joint was replaced with a temporary cement spacer.

Walking was uncomfortable, even with the help of a walker, but the spacer was replaced with a new artificial joint two months later and Douglas was able to use crutches a month after that.

He was given antibiotics intravenously while in hospital and for two months after his discharge, and was then prescribed three types of oral antibiotic.

Six months after the infections were discovered, Douglas has been told he will soon be able to take just one type of antibiotic a day. He is likely to be on antibiotics indefinitely.

He describes the feeling of having SSIs as discomfort and aching rather than pain, and he was able to control the discomfort with paracetamol.

Douglas was a marathon runner until he developed serious knee pain shortly before turning 70. He is already back to walking three days a week and using an exercycle for half an hour each day.

“I think being so fit has helped in my recovery, and in my mental state. I won’t ever run another marathon, but I’ve started playing croquet again,” he says.

“It was a nasty experience, but my advice to other people who have an SSI is to not get into the blame thing. It will just fill your mind up and affect other people who are close to you.

“My wife has been very supportive, and everyone who has dealt with me in the public health service has been wonderful. Having an infection hasn’t been easy but my wife and I feel very grateful that we have come through this difficult time.”