Many infection control practitioners (ICPs) dedicate a significant amount of time and resources to surveillance of surgical site infections (SSIs). Alternative surveillance methods need to be explored to reflect the changes to the healthcare system and the increasing economic constraints placed on infection control units. This study was undertaken to compare two methods of identifying SSIs in orthopaedic surgery. Surveillance data collected routinely by ICPs was compared with data obtained from the International Classification of Disease, 9th Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM) coding in the medical record. Concordant results between the two methods were obtained. The use of ICD-9-CM coding, as stored in hospital patient administration system databases, has the ability to enhance routine surgical site surveillance programmes. These systems can be used as the basis for screening large data sets for SSIs and identifying where SSIs resulted in patient re-admission. A reduction in the duplication of data and time spent by the ICP on the collection of information for surveillance purposes can be achieved.
Copyright 2001 The Hospital Infection Society.