Telephone call contact for post-discharge surveillance of surgical site infections. A pilot, methodological study

E. W. Taylor, K. Duffy, K Lee, A. Noone, A. Leanord, P. M. King, P. O'Dwyer

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    Accurate determination of superficial surgical-site infection (SSI) requires post-discharge surveillance (PDS) for up to 30 days. To be useful for regional or national audit the method must be effective, inexpensive, and acceptable to patients. We assessed the role of telephone calls to patients in PDS of SSI in 3150 patients in 32 Scottish hospitals undergoing groin hernia repair during one year. Overall, 104 (3.3%) patients opted out of the audit by declining to give a contact telephone number, 96 (3.0%) could not provide a personal telephone contact number, and 12 could not be contacted, a compliance rate of 93.3%. Two thousand, nine hundred and thirty-eight patients were contacted at one or all of the call points, i.e. 10, 20, or 30 days postoperatively, from a single call centre by medical records clerks, working to a piloted protocol. Contact data, including contact at all three time points are available on 2665 (84.6%) patients. All patients who believed their wound to be infected were seen by a healthcare worker (HCW) to confirm or refute the diagnosis. Of the 2665 patients in whom complete data are available, 140 (5.3%) patients developed confirmed wound infection and a further 57 (2.1%) thought their wound was infected, but this was not confirmed by the HCW. Patients appeared to welcome the concept of telephone contact. Methods for identifying all patients eligible for surveillance need to be improved. However, we believe this method of patient contact could be appropriate for PDS in regional or national audit.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)8-13
    Number of pages6
    JournalJournal of Hospital Infection
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


    • Telephone calls
    • Post-discharge surveillance
    • Postoperative infection
    • Hernia repair


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