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JAMA Insights
Clinical Update
February 21, 2020

Preventing Surgical Site Infections: Looking Beyond the Current Guidelines

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Surgery, Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Department of Surgery, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 3Department of Surgery, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA. 2020;323(11):1087-1088. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.20830

Surgical site infection (SSI) occurs in up to 5% of patients following an inpatient surgical procedure, increasing average hospital length of stay by 9.7 days, risk of mortality by 2- to 11-fold, and costs of hospitalization by more than $20 000 per admission.1 SSIs are defined as either superficial (confined to the skin or subcutaneous tissue), deep (involving the muscle or fascia layers), or organ-space (involving the internal anatomic region where the operation was performed). Because more than half of SSIs are estimated to be preventable with evidence-based guidelines, SSI has been identified as an important quality indicator and is now a pay-for-performance metric.1-3