Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

U.K. hospital infection surveillance system flawed, say experts

Date:
January 14, 2013
Source:
De Montfort University
Summary:
Patients recovering from surgery get infections far more often than is being reported, a new study has found. Infection prevention specialists are now calling for a clear and standardized system for hospitals to try to identify the true scale of surgical infections.

Patients recovering from surgery get infections far more often than is being reported, a new 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 say a study of the way in which NHS hospital trusts in England has shown "worrying inconsistencies" between hospitals in how they defined surgical site infections and how rigorously they looked for them. As a result, published infection rates for hospitals do not always give a true picture.

The reasons hospitals gave for not submitting data was that the surveillance system was flawed and unwieldy and they didn't trust the system

Their paper, recently published in the Journal of Hospital Infection, casts further doubt on the reliability of the national surgical site infection surveillance scheme in England.

Lead researcher Professor Judith Tanner of De Montfort University said "The national SSI surveillance system in England consistently under-reports the true scale of surgical infection and gives a false sense of security. This study shows there are so many inconsistencies that it's not possible to benchmark hospitals against the English national surgical site infection data."

Specialists at De Montfort University, Leicester; Southport and Newcastle-upon-Tyne universities sent out a questionnaire to all 156 NHS hospital trusts in England asking how they collected and reported data on post-operative wound infection for the national surgical site infection surveillance scheme. Replies were received from 106 (68%).

The results showed worrying inconsistencies between hospitals. For example, 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%; hospitals that did not look so hard reported a lower rate, 1.5%.

The authors suggested that in order to identify the true scale of surgical infections, hospitals should contact every single patient, by letter or phone within 30 days after surgery. Prof Tanner said: "The harder you look, the more that you find. Common sense tells you this and now we have demonstrated that with this study. Perversely, hospitals that conduct robust and high quality surveillance are penalized under the current system."

Background Surgical wound infections are the 2nd or 3rd most common healthcare associated infection, and one of the most preventable. A hospital's rates will depend on the definition used, whether these are picked up before the patient leaves hospital or if re-admitted because of an infection, and how rigorously hospitals search for infections amongst patients who have left hospital. Post-discharge surveillance is essential as patients now leave hospital very soon after their operation, and failure to do this will inevitably result in underestimation of the actual infection rate.

In 1997, a voluntary surveillance scheme was established allowing hospitals in England to report infections in wound surgical operations. It would enable hospitals to compare their own infection rates against a benchmark, and to use this information to improve the quality of patient care. It is administered and run by the Health Protection Agency.

In 2004, the scheme was extended to make participation in surveillance after orthopaedic surgery mandatory for a minimum of three months a year. In 2008, the scheme was extended to include patients re-admitted to hospital with surgical wound infections.

Surgical infection rates reported by the scheme were however often noticeably lower than rates reported from published research studies. In 2009, after reviewing the scheme, the Public Accounts Committee concluded that the Department of Health did not have an understanding of the true scale of SSIs in England because of a lack of decent data. The scheme continues.

Key findings There was non-compliance with the schemes' protocol and definitions:

* 10% hospitals did not provide data on superficial infections

* 15% did not use the HPA's standardised definition of wound infection

There were significant differences in how hard Trusts looked for infection.

* 9/106 hospitals only looked for early infections developing before patients left hospital

* 24/106 hospitals only included patients while they were in hospital, and if they happened to be re-admitted with a wound infection.

* 73/106 hospitals used in-patient, re-admission follow up, and actively looked for infections by directly contacting patients after they had been discharged from hospital (post discharge surveillance)


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by De Montfort University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. Tanner, W. Padley, M. Kiernan, D. Leaper, P. Norrie, R. Baggott. A benchmark too far: findings from a national survey of surgical site infection surveillance. Journal of Hospital Infection, Volume 83, Issue 2 (February 2013)

Cite This Page:

De Montfort University. "U.K. hospital infection surveillance system flawed, say experts." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130114192630.htm>.
De Montfort University. (2013, January 14). U.K. hospital infection surveillance system flawed, say experts. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130114192630.htm
De Montfort University. "U.K. hospital infection surveillance system flawed, say experts." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130114192630.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) In a potential breakthrough for future obesity treatments, scientists have used MRI scans to pinpoint brown fat in a living adult for the first time. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) President Barack Obama gave a briefing Thursday announcing 8 million people have signed up under the Affordable Care Act. He blasted continued Republican efforts to repeal the law. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins