Objective: To determine the incidence of and risk factors for surgical site infections in general practice.
Design: Prospective, observational study of patients presenting for minor excisions.
Setting: Primary care in a regional centre, Queensland, October 2004 to May 2005.
Participants: 857 patients were assessed for infection.
Results: The overall incidence of infection was 8.6% (95% CI, 3.5%-13.8%). Excisions from lower legs and feet (P = 0.009) or thighs (P = 0.005), excisions of basal cell carcinoma (P = 0.006) or squamous cell carcinoma (P = 0.002), and diabetes (P < 0.001) were independent risk factors for wound infection.
Conclusion: Our results indicate the high-risk groups for surgery in a general practice setting, such as people with diabetes and those undergoing excision of a non-melanocytic skin cancer or excision from a lower limb. Recognition of these groups could encourage more judicial use of prophylactic antibiotics and use of other interventions aimed at reducing infection rates.