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Care bundles to reduce surgical site infections and promote positive outcomes

02 June 2024
11 mins read
Volume 15 · Issue 5
Figure 1. Surgical site infection affecting a canine limb. Credit: Nancy McLaughlin.
Figure 1. Surgical site infection affecting a canine limb. Credit: Nancy McLaughlin.


All surgical patients are at risk of surgical site infections which can cause serious wound healing complications. To improve patient care and promote good patient outcomes, veterinary nurses must be aware of the pathophysiology and clinical signs of surgical site infections, in addition to how to reduce the risks of surgical site infections in clinical practice. There are many evidence-based techniques that can be implemented to reduce the risk of surgical site infections; multiple techniques may be combined into a care bundle, a relatively novel concept in veterinary medicine. Individual practices should be aware of emerging techniques and implement care bundles that are most relevant to their surgical case load. This article discusses surgical site infections and considers the appropriateness and application of care bundles into veterinary practice through governance techniques.

This article will explore care bundles as a tool for reducing surgical site infections (SSIs). To achieve this, the impact of SSIs on patient outcomes will be considered and guidance will be provided on how to reduce their occurrence, specifically through an exploration of how care bundles can assist in this. The article aims to provide practical direction for implementing change and improving standards of patient care in relation to reducing SSIs.

SSIs affect large numbers of veterinary patients each year and are infections that occur at, or near, to the surgical site up to 30 days post surgery, or up to 1 year after implants have been placed (Horan et al, 2008). In human medicine, SSIs are classified based on a set of criteria defined by the National Healthcare Safety Network (2023) (see Table 1). Generally, the same principles are applied to SSIs observed in veterinary medicine.

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