Post-op infection rate 'higher than reported'
Patients recovering from surgery get infections far more often than is being reported, a study led by De Montfort University has found.
Infection prevention specialists are now calling on the Department of Health to bring in a clear and standardised system for hospitals to try to identify the true scale of surgical infections.
They said a study found "worrying inconsistencies" between hospitals in how surgical site infections (SSI) were defined and looked for.
Lead researcher Professor Judith Tanner said: "The national SSI surveillance system in England consistently under-reports the true scale of surgical infection and gives a false sense of security."
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Specialists from De Montfort, Southport and Newcastle universities sent a questionnaire to all 156 NHS hospital trusts in England asking how they collected and reported data on post-operative wound infections. Replies were received from 106.
Trusts which actively extended their surveillance to patients who had had knee replacement, after they had been discharged from hospital, reported an infection rate of 4.1 per cent.
Hospitals that did not look so hard reported a rate of 1.5 per cent.
Prof Tanner said: "There is an excellent surveillance programme at Leicester's hospitals. It is probably the best trust in the whole of England."