Surgical Site Infections


For patient information, including what hospitals are doing to prevent SSIs and questions you can ask your healthcare provider and surgeon on preventing surgical site infections:

Types of Surgeries

Hospitals perform many different types of surgeries. A surgical site infection (SSI) is a risk for any surgery. SSI reporting focuses on certain types of surgeries because they are performed frequently or may have higher risk of infection.

Washington State law (RCW 43.70.056) requires hospitals licensed by the Department of Health to report surgeries and SSI data for:

Hospitals classify procedures by categories defined by CDC's National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) for Washington State SSI reporting.

Washington State Department of Health uses inpatient surgical procedure categories to compare infection ratios across hospitals. SSI standard infection ratios (SIRs) can be found in the HAI Annual Report.  

Abdominal Hysterectomies

Abdominal hysterectomy is a common surgical procedure in which the uterus is removed through an incision in the lower abdomen. Surgical site infections from hysterectomies can affect the area around the incision. This is a superficial infection, as the area affected is limited to the skin and subcutaneous tissue. Other more serious SSIs can result in a deep infection in the muscles or an infection affecting the reproductive tract in the area around the abdomen.

Colon Surgeries

Colon (large intestine or bowel) surgeries involve a surgical incision to access the intestinal cavity to make a repair on or remove part of the large intestine. Some colon repairs include removal of diseased or damaged colon (resection), attaching healthy parts of the colon together (anastomosis), or making an opening in the colon to remove waste (ostomy).

Surgical site infections from colon surgeries can affect the tissue around the incision and cause a superficial infection (skin and subcutaneous tissue), or cause a deep infection in the muscles, connective tissues, or organs like the gastrointestinal tract or in the intraabdominal area.

Rectal operations, small bowel surgeries, gallbladder or appendix removal, and non-surgical routine tests like colonoscopies are considered different types of procedures and are not included in this NHSN colon surgery category and are not tracked by the department.

Visit our HAI Reports page to compare Washington hospitals' standard infection ratios (SIRs).