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Am J Infect Control. 2010 Nov;38(9):711-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2010.03.017.

Patients' experiences of acquiring a deep surgical site infection: an interview study.

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Institute of Health and Care Sciences, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Göteborg, Sweden.



The negative impact of surgical site infection (SSI) in terms of morbidity, mortality, additional costs, and length of stay (LOS) in the hospital is well described in the literature, as are risk factors and preventive measures. Given the lack of knowledge regarding patients' experiences of SSI, the aim of the present study was to describe patients' experiences of acquiring a deep SSI.


Content analysis was used to analyze data obtained from 14 open interviews with participants diagnosed with a deep SSI.


Patients acquiring a deep SSI suffer significantly from pain, isolation, and insecurity. The SSI changes physical, emotional, social, and economic aspects of life in extremely negative ways, and these changes are often persistent.


Health care professionals should focus on strategies to enable early diagnosis and treatment of SSIs. The unacceptable suffering related to the infection, medical treatment, and an insufficient patient-professional relationship should be addressed when planning individual care, because every effort is needed to support this group of patients and minimize their distress. All possible measures should be taken to avoid bacterial contamination of the surgical wound during and after surgery to prevent the development of SSI.

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