Since 1997, a surgical-site infections (SSI) surveillance network (INCISO) has been implemented in volunteer general surgical units in Northern France. For three months each year, all patients who undergo a surgical procedure are consecutively reviewed for their peri-operative condition and traced for outcome with a 30-day follow-up. Of the 38973 surgical patients included over a three-year period, 1344 (3.4%) developed SSI and 568 died (1.5%) including 78 with an SSI. Organ-space and deep incisional SSI were associated with a higher mortality and required re-operation more frequently than did superficial incisional SSI. SSI incidence and mortality varied according to the surgical procedure. SSI was a significant predictor of mortality, independently of NNIS risk index and other survival predictors. Thirty-eight percent of deaths in SSI patients were attributable to infection. Hence, the significant impact of SSI on mortality and morbidity in surgical patients is now an additional reason to reinforce compliance of surgical staff with preventive measures and hygiene practices.
Copyright 2001 The Hospital Infection Society.