Open for better care campaign focus moves to surgical site infections

17 October 2013

WDHB's 'Open for better care' campaign Surgical Site Infections poster featuring WDHB surgical services nurse manager Declan Rogers
From today, the Health Quality and Safety Commission’s highly successful national Open for better care campaign moves its focus from falls to another leading cause of preventable harm and life-threatening events for patients - surgical site infections (SSIs) which can occur following surgery.
Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) nurse manager surgical services Declan Rogers says given that SSIs can cause long-term disabilities, longer stays in hospital and financial distress for patients they are very serious.
“However, evidence also shows that it is possible to reduce the incidence of SSIs and that is our focus,” Mr Rogers says.
“Besides the concern and discomfort that SSIs cause the two to five percent of patients who develop them, we need to be mindful of the fact that a patient with an SSI can cost the health system twice as much as a patient without an infection.
 “It’s a preventable cost that diverts much needed resources away from other areas of care – a cost that all DHBs have a responsibility to try and avoid.
“The WDHB is very pleased to get behind this campaign. While Wanganui Hospital’s rates of SSIs are low, you can never become complacent and ideally, all of us should be working towards achieving a zero incidence rate.”
Mr Rogers says choosing SSIs as the second focus area of Open for better care will highlight and promote the campaign’s recommended actions. These include:
  • streamlining the SSI surveillance process
  • giving patients the right antibiotic at the right time
  • using appropriate skin preparations before surgery
  • clipping rather than shaving the surgical site.

Mr Rogers, WDHB surgeon John Van Dalen and WDHB nurse coordinator infection prevention and control Jacqui Pennefather will feature on posters displayed around Wanganui Hospital to highlight SSIs and how they can be avoided.
The Open for better care was launched in May 2013 by Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew. The SSI focus will run from October 2013 to March 2014, before the campaign moves on to focus on harm caused by perioperative care and, finally, medication. The campaign will run until at least mid-2015.
More information about Open for better care is available at