Report Finds Fall In Ireland Infection Rates

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Rates of infection following orthopaedic surgery in Northern Ireland have fallen for the third year running, according to the findings of an infection surveillance report.

The Fifth Northern Ireland Report of Surveillance of Surgical Site Infection (SSI) related to Procedures Performed by Orthopaedic Surgeons in Northern Ireland was produced by the Healthcare-Associated Infection Surveillance Centre (HISC).

The data presented in the report is a summary of information reported by hospitals participating in orthopaedic SSI surveillance during the calendar years 2003-2007.

Commenting on the findings, Health Minister Michael McGimpsey said: “This report clearly demonstrates the progress we are making in the control of surgical infections in patients undergoing orthopaedic surgery.

“Rates of these infections have fallen by 45% since 2004 and are now at their lowest ever levels. This data show the efforts made on behalf of individual surgeons and Trusts to ensure the safest possible care for patients.”

The key findings of the report were:

* Orthopaedic surgical site infection (SSI) rate has decreased for the third year in a row.

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* Orthopaedic SSI rate reported in the period January 2007 to December 2007 was the lowest yet reported in any year of this surveillance programme.

* The rates for the last year are lower than the previous year for all of the four mandatory orthopaedic categories, indicating a downward trend in SSI in Northern Ireland.

* There was a 22% decrease in the SSI rate compared to the 2006 rate.

* There was a 45% decrease in the SSI rate over the period 2004 to 2007.

* There was a 23% reduction in the superficial incisional SSI rate between 2006 and 2007 (68% reduction 2004 – 2007).

* Post discharge infections accounted for one third of SSIs in 2007.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Michael McBride said: “Surveillance is critical to reducing the number healthcare associated infections. Identifying and monitoring these infections and feeding back this information to staff and across organisations is essential to inform preventive action.

“The mandatory programme of surveillance for SSIs post orthopaedic surgery has been very successful and we will be working to extend this methodology to other areas of surgical practice.”

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