Sparking National Conversations on Surgical Site Infections in Australia

Johnson & Johnson Medical Pty Ltd
Friday, 01 October, 2021

On May 20 2021, Johnson & Johnson Medical Pty Ltd hosted the inaugural Ethicon Surgical Site Infection (SSI) Symposium which sought to raise awareness on SSI, and the important role of SSI surveillance in Australia by bringing together leading experts in their fields to discuss the latest evidence, tools and resources.

Why does this matter? Healthcare-associated infections are the most common hospital-acquired complication in Australian hospitals1.

SSI’s adversely impact a patient’s quality of life and place an additional economic burden on the Australian national healthcare system2. According to the Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare, hospitalisation of an SSI can cost a hospital up to $42,1021 in extra costs.

Despite what we know about the incidence and impact of SSI’s, monitoring and surveillance in Australian hospitals remains inconsistent. This makes it challenging for surgeons, nurses, and infection control specialists to be fully aware of the large-scale implications of SSI’s and effective infection prevention methodologies. Therefore, Ethicon is committed to partnering with policy makers, healthcare facilities and healthcare professionals to increase awareness about SSI prevention and improve patient outcomes.

SSI’s are preventable with the right evidence based solutions and interventions. Using Plus triclosan-coated sutures as part of a bundle of care approach, effectively reduces the risk associated with SSI’s by 28%3. With this, the implementation of national and international guidelines and SSI management protocols can save lives and significantly improve the outcomes of patients.

Throughout the SSI Symposium, international experts Professor David Leaper of the Institute of Skin Integrity of the University of Huddersfield, UK; Dr. Ken Loi, a bariatric and upper gastrointestinal and oncology surgeon; Dr. Cath Murphy, Professional Standards Officer at ACORN; and Professor Phillip Russo, President of the Australian College of Infection Prevention (ACIPC), shared the latest insights regarding the cause and prevalence of SSI’s together with specific techniques, protocols, and guidelines that should be standardised in hospitals and healthcare settings.

Additionally, surveillance and epidemiological specialists emphasised the importance of consistent and robust participation in SSI surveillance measurement across healthcare facilities.

“As part of our commitment to ongoing professional education and partnership with healthcare professionals, we were delighted with the feedback from attendees who found the event to be ‘informative and insightful in how small and inexpensive changes can impact and positively improve patient outcomes’.”– Jennifer Spurgeon, Vice President, Ethicon Australia.

At Ethicon, we firmly believe that by sharing knowledge and raising awareness of evidence based guidelines, we can improve surveillance of SSI’s and prevent them from the onset. We are committed to developing technologies which help surgeons improve outcomes and to the education of healthcare practitioners on what we can do together to achieve our collective goal of zero surgical site infections in Australian Hospitals.

Please click on this link to learn more about the importance of surveillance and prevention of Surgical Site Infections, and full speaker biographies.

Update August 2021

Since the SSI Symposium NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, UK) issued a recommendation for the use of Ethicon PLUS sutures in all surgeries across the National Health Service5.

This recommendation, as well as the inclusion of antimicrobial coated sutures on the NHMRC Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare 20194, WHO (World Health Organisation)6 and CDC (Centre for Disease Control)7* reinforce the importance of recognising the role that sutures can play as a source of infection and how PLUS sutures can prevent SSI’s.

*NHMRC, WHO and CDC guidelines on reducing the risk of surgical site infections are general to triclosan-coated sutures and are not specific to any one brand.

For more information:

1. Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (n.d.) Hospital-Acquired Complication: Healthcare-Associated Infections. Selected best practices and suggestions for improvement for clinicians and health systems managers. Published March 2018. Accessed July 13 2021

2. Russo, P.L., Stewardson, A.J., Cheng, A.C. et al. The prevalence of healthcare associated infections among adult inpatients at nineteen large Australian acute-care public hospitals: a point prevalence survey. Antimicrob Resist Infect Control. 2019; 8 (114)

3. de Jonge SW, Atema JJ, Solomkin JS, Boermeester MA. Meta-analysis and trial sequential analysis of triclosan-coated sutures for the prevention of surgical site infection. Brit J Surg. 2017;ePub-DOI: 10.1002/bjs.10445

4. Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare, Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council (2019).

5. Plus Sutures for preventing surgical site infection 28 June 2021 Accessed 13 August 2021

6. WHO Global Guidelines for the Prevention of Surgical Site Infection, 2016

7. Berríos-Torres SI, Umscheid CA, Bratzler DW, et al. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Guideline for the Prevention of Surgical Site Infection, 2017. JAMA Surg. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2017.0904

Image credit: © Jurkovska

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