The validity of surgical wound infection as a clinical indicator in Australia

M. L. McLaws*, C. Murphy, Greg Keogh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveyResearchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Evidence-based medicine and measurement of outcome have become the foremost strategy of departments of health and quality care in Australia in the 1990s. The Australian Council of Healthcare Standards (ACHS), formed in 1974, has introduced a Clinical Indicators Programme which monitors a number of clinical outcomes, including rates of specific nosocomial infections. it is the only formal system in Australia which attempts to monitor nosocomial infection in hospitals, and the ACHS acknowledges that the data provided to them are collected using a variety of sources and definitions. Methods: The present study discusses the validity of the present definitions of nosocomial surgical wound infection used for accreditation, how validity may be improved and the attempts by some international systems to improve their own data. Results: The ACHS definitions of nosocomial surgical wound infection lack validity, and the rates provided lack generalizability. Several international surveillance systems have resources in place to provide members with standardized training for practitioners, and support for methodology, data analysis and reporting, which assists in improving the quality of the data collected. Conclusion: It is our belief that the validity of surgical wound infections will be improved by adoption of National Nosocomial Infection Surveillance (NNIS) definitions, stratification of surgical wound infections by anatomical site of infection for sentinel procedures. The ACHS system must adopt the proposed changes if the rates are to be used as a local and national indicator.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)675-678
Number of pages4
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Surgery
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 8 Oct 1997
Externally publishedYes


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