Hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) are a major cause of morbidity and mortality. Surgical site infection (SSI) rates are reported to range from 2.5% to 41%. HAI increases the risk of death by 2 – 11%, and three-quarters of these deaths are directly attributable to SSIs.
To determine the incidence of HAI and to identify risk factors amenable to modification with a resultant reduction in infection rates.
An analysis of HAIs was performed between January and April 2018 in the trauma centre surgical wards at Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa.
There were 769 admissions during the study period. Twenty-two patients (0.03%) developed an HAI. The majority were men, and the mean age was 32 years (range 18 – 57). The mean length of hospital stay (LoS) was 9 days, higher than the mean LoS for the hospital of 6 days. Fourteen patients underwent emergency surgery, 3 patients underwent abbreviated damage control surgery, and 9 patients were admitted to the critical care unit. Most patients with nosocomial sepsis were treated with appropriate culture-based antibiotics (82%). Four patients were treated with amoxicillin/clavulanic acid presumptively prior to culture and sensitivity results, after which antibiotic therapy was tailored. All but 1 patient received antibiotics.
A combination of measures is required to prevent trauma-related infections. By determining the incidence of nosocomial infections in our trauma patients, uniform policies to reduce infection rates further could be determined. Our low incidence of infection may be explained by established preventive care bundles already in place.