Improving methods for assessing surgical site infection

Theme Surgical and orthopaedic innovation

Workstream Innovative translational research methods

Status: This project is ongoing

The aim of this project is to explore methods to improve surgical site infection (SSI) assessment after patients leave hospital.

SSIs are one of the most common healthcare-associated infections. They are infections that develop in parts of the body where surgery took place and are often difficult to assess because problems commonly occur after the patient has left hospital.

SSIs are a common adverse event after surgery. They are, therefore, an important outcome to measure when evaluating new surgical techniques and devices that are being developed and introduced into clinical practice.

During this project we are asking adults undergoing surgery at an NHS trust in Bristol to complete our Wound Healing Questionnaire (WHQ) 30 days after their procedure. The questionnaire asks patients whether they have experienced any signs or symptoms relating to their wound, or whether they have needed any wound care interventions that may indicate that an SSI has developed.

We are collecting this data electronically with the help of an automated system. We want to evaluate if collecting data in this way is feasible and whether it could improve current data collection systems (e.g., postal questionnaires), as these are often slow and expensive to administer. We are also using the data collected in this study to validate a scoring system for the WHQ.

Our findings will demonstrate whether the questionnaire we have developed is a reliable and feasible source for the remote, automated, electronic collection of SSI data. In turn, this could potentially be a significant method for use throughout the evaluation cycle of innovative procedures and devices, as they move through early to later phase studies as well as routine practice.

This project builds on research carried out within the MRC ConDuCT-II Hub and our previous work on the Bluebelle study.