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Surgical infection

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Reducing surgical infection rates

All surgeries have infections as a possible complication. At Novant Health, we are continually taking action to evaluate and improve patient care, with much focus on reducing infection rates. Steps our staff and physicians take to prevent infections and make our hospital environment safer for you, include:

  • Preparing the surgical site with a surgical skin disinfectant
  • Administering antibiotics for the appropriate surgeries
  • Providing patients with instructions on how to care for the surgical site before surgery and after they go home

It is important to understand that different surgical procedures have different infection rates. The more complex surgeries generally have higher rates of infection. The overall health status of the patient and the length of time a surgery takes also impact the surgical procedure infection rates.


Surgical infection rates - Surgical infection rates are calculated using a standard set of definitions from the Center for Disease Control's National Healthcare Safety Network program (NHSN), using a nationally-approved set of rules. The NHSN also collects infection rate data from participating member healthcare organizations and uses this data to develop national benchmarks. The national benchmarks assist in determining what a hospital might achieve with a good surgical infection prevention program.

The NHSN calculates the benchmark for each surgery into low, moderate, and high risk of infection based on a set of patient characteristics, the length of the surgical procedure and on the type of surgery performed. Hospitals can compare infection rates against the NHSN benchmark rates for identifying where good surgical infection prevention practices exist, as well as identify opportunities to improve. Novant Health's goal is always to try and achieve rates that are as low as possible.

Procedures measured - At Novant Health, we compare our infection rates to the NHSN averages; our goal is to always be better than the national benchmarks. Some of the procedures whose infection rates we measure include:

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