Hamilton Health Sciences
Achieving excellence in care, research & education

 Surgical Site Infections (SSI)


What are surgical site infections (SSI)?

Surgical site infections occur when harmful germs enter a patient's body through the surgical site (any cut the surgeon makes in the skin to perform the operation). Infections happen because germs are everywhere - on the skin, in the air and on things individuals touch. Most infections are caused by germs found on and in a patient's body.

For some surgeries, one of the ways to prevent surgical site infections (SSI) is by giving patients antibiotics 0 to 60 minutes (for usual antibiotics) or 0 to 120 minutes (vancomycin) before surgery.

 What are the risk factors for SSI?

The risk of acquiring a surgical site infection is higher if you:

  • Are an older adult
  • Have a weakened immune system or other serious health problem such as diabetes
  • Smoke
  • Are malnourished (don't eat enough healthy foods)
  • Are very overweight

 What is surgical site infection prevention?

One of the ways to prevent surgical site infections is by giving patients an antibiotic within 60 minutes (for usual antibiotics) or within 120 minutes (for an antibiotic known as vancomycin) before they go into surgery. The SSI-prevention indicator will report the percentage of time the health care team gave patients antibiotics within the appropriate time period before the surgery. This will apply only to patients who are 18 years or older who are about to undergo primary hip or knee joint replacement surgery. 

What determines the rate?



                                     # of Hip/Knee total joint replacement surgeries who rrecieved

                                                  antibiotics within 60-120* minutes of incision

                   ____________________________________          x 100   

                    Total # of patients who had Hip/Knee total joint replacement surgeries 



For Hamilton Health Sciences the most recent quarterly results, Q3 October-December 2018, of the combined pecentage of hip/knee joint replacement surgical patients that recieved prophylactic antibiotic within the appropriate time prior to surgery for eligible hospitals was 98.8% (411 of 416 joint replacement cases).   


What are we doing to reduce Surgical Site Infections and improve patient safety at Hamilton Health Sciences?

  •  Monitoring all primary hip/knee joint replacements patients and implementing a protocol for appropriate antibiotic selection and antibiotic administration within the appropriate time prior to surgery.

  • Improving staff and visitor Hand Hygiene practices (Just Clean Your Hands Campaign)

SSI Fact Sheet

SSI Fact Sheet for Patients and Visitors









Hamilton Health Sciences • Hamilton, Ontario • 905.521.2100

Disclaimer: Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) offers Google Translate to better facilitate access for our community. However, HHS makes no claims regarding the accuracy of translations. Any and all health information should be verified by a health care professional.