The importance of surveillance of post-discharge infections has increased as a consequence of shorter hospital stay after surgical procedures. This study examined the ability of a computer-based surveillance system to identify urinary tract infections (UTIs) and postoperative wound infections (PWIs) within 30 days after caesarean section. We assessed the use of data from various electronic registries to identify patients with post-caesarean UTI and PWI classified according to a reference standard. The standard was based on information from medical records and self-reported data (questionnaire) using modified Centers for Disease Control and Prevention definitions. The sensitivity of the computer system in detecting UTI diagnosed during hospital stay, readmission or at visits to hospital outpatient clinics was 80.0%; the specificity was 99.9%. For post-discharge UTIs diagnosed outside the hospital, sensitivity and specificity were 76.3% and 99.9%, respectively. For PWIs diagnosed in hospital and post-discharge outside hospital, sensitivities were 77.1% and 68.9%, and the specificities 99.5% and 98.2%. We conclude that a computer-based surveillance system may identify in-hospital infections and post-discharge infections with a relatively high sensitivity and excellent specificity.
Copyright 2009 The Hospital Infection Society. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.