Overall Burden of Healthcare-Associated Infections Among Surgical Patients: Results of a National Study

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Surgical site infection (SSI) is a major adverse event after operative procedures. Surveillance of SSI with feedback of the resulting rates to surgeons has been shown to heighten awareness of the problem and reduce their incidence.1–4 In consequence, surveillance of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), in particular SSI, has become standard in quality management and patient safety in a vast number of hospitals worldwide.5 Because of its costly nature, HAI surveillance usually targets the most frequent infections in patient populations at high risk.6–8 For this reason, SSI surveillance captures only a part of the overall burden of HAIs in patients exposed to surgical procedures. To better estimate the real extent of the problem, we assessed the overall burden of HAI in a large patient population exposed to recent surgery. Furthermore, the risk profile and HAI rates in this population were compared to those in all inpatients not exposed to surgery.
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