Reducing surgical site infection rates in colorectal surgery – a quality improvement approach to implementing a comprehensive bundle

Rachel Falconer, George Ramsay, Jemma Hudson, Angus Watson*, Highland Colorectal SSI Group

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


Aim: Surgical site infections (SSIs) are a preventable cause of morbidity following surgical procedures. Strategies to reduce rates of SSI must address pre-, peri- and postoperative factors and multiple interventions can be combined into ‘bundles’. Adoption of these measures can reduce SSIs, but this is dependent on high levels of compliance. The aim of this work is to assess the change in rates of SSI in elective colorectal surgery after implementing a colorectal SSI bundle. Method: This is a single-centre prospective cohort study. All elective colorectal procedures from 2011 until 2018 (inclusive) were included. The primary outcome was inpatient SSI. A multimodal bundle was implemented using quality improvement methodology. The bundle was altered during the timeframe of the study to optimize outcomes. Data were analysed by interrupted time series analysis assessing points at which the bundle was altered. Results: In the study period, 1075 elective colorectal procedures were performed. Prior to the introduction of the colorectal SSI bundle, the SSI rate was 16.4%. During the implementation period (2013–2015), the overall rate of SSI fell from 15.9% to 9.4%, with the most significant reduction being in superficial SSI, from 8.6% to 4.7%. In the postimplementation period from 2015–2018, there was a further reduction in the overall rate of SSI (5.1%). In 2018, there were 87 consecutive cases without infection. Conclusion: A successful reduction in the rate of SSI following elective colorectal surgery can be achieved by adopting a comprehensive perioperative bundle. This is complemented by a process of continuous measurement and evaluation. The current bundle has achieved a significant reduction in superficial SSI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2999-3007
Number of pages9
JournalColorectal Disease
Issue number11
Early online date2 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding for project management time was received from the Scottish Patient Safety Programme.

Data Availability Statement

Data available on request from the authors.


  • bundles
  • colorectal surgery
  • quality improvement
  • surgical site infection


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