Surgical site infection is a type of healthcare-associated infection in which a wound infection occurs after an invasive (surgical) procedure. Other types of healthcare-associated infections that mainly affect surgical patients are postoperative respiratory and urinary tract infections, bacteraemias (including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections and intravascular cannula infections) and antibiotic-related diarrhoeas (particularly Clostridium difficile enteritis). Surgical site infections have been shown to compose up to 20% of all of healthcare-associated infections. At least 5% of patients undergoing a surgical procedure develop a surgical site infection.
This guideline covers preventing and treating surgical site infections in adults, young people and children who are having a surgical procedure involving a cut through the skin. It recommends effective methods to use before, during and after surgery to minimise the risk of infection.