Surgical Site Infections

A surgical site infection (SSI) occurs at the site of a surgical incision (cut). Germs can sometimes get into the incision and cause an infection. An infection can occur any time after surgery but most commonly develops shortly afterward, usually within 30 days of an operation. Sometimes infections can occur much later, especially if an implant (such as a joint replacement, for example) is used.

SSIs are among the most common health-care-associated infections. SSIs can be minor, but occasionally they can result in a longer length of stay in the hospital, or can lead to readmission to hospital. As a patient you can help reduce your chance of infection by following all of the pre-operative instructions given to you by your surgeon and health-care team and by not shaving the area where the incision will be made.

For some operations, such as joint replacements, giving an antibiotic just before surgery is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of infection. This indicator ensures that one of the most important steps in preventing SSIs is being used – i.e., ensuring that antibiotics are administered at the right time, just before a hip or knee joint replacement surgery.

The public reporting of this indicator will reveal the percentage of all first time hip and knee replacement surgery patients who get antibiotics at the right time, just before joint replacement surgery. It is important to note that this indicator does not measure actual surgical site infections.

Measuring Compliance Rates

All hospitals that perform hip and/or knee joint replacement surgery must publicly report the SSI Prevention indicator data. These Ontario hospitals are posting their quarterly SSI Prevention percentages for their facility, using the following formula:

Number of Hip/Knee joint replacement                   Number of Hip/Knee joint replacement
surgery patients who received antibiotics     +        surgeries who received antibiotics               x 100%
within 60 min of skin incision                                     within 120 min of skin incision
Total number of patients during the reporting period who had a primary knee/hip
joint replacement surgical procedure


SSI rates at TADH as of December 2019:

SSI Rate = 86% (Hip & Knee)

More patient-specific information is available at the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care website.