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Waikato DHB Launches Second National Patient Safety Topic

Media Release

Date: Wednesday 16 October 2013

Waikato DHB Launches Second National Patient Safety Campaign Topic

Waikato District Health Board (DHB) today joins each of the four DHB regions - Northern, Midlands, Central and South Island - to launch the second topic of the Open for better care national patient safety campaign: reducing harm from surgical site infections (SSI).

The campaign began with a focus on falls when it was launched in May 2013 by Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew. The SSI topic 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 Health Quality and Safety Commission (HQSC) will host an Open for better care information booth at Waikato Hospital’s Upper Deck cafeteria on Monday 21 October to mark the SSI launch. Staff, patients and visitors are encouraged to visit the booth.

“Waikato DHB has pledged its commitment to Open for better care, which challenges health care workers to be open to acknowledging mistakes, and learning from them; open to working closely with patients and consumers; and open to change, improvement and innovation,” chief operating officer and campaign lead for Midland region Jan Adams said.

SSIs are those involving the surgical wound in a patient following surgery. SSIs can develop when bacteria enter a surgical incision and multiply in the tissue and can cause life-threatening illnesses, long-term disabilities, longer stays in hospital, and emotional and financial stress.

Most SSIs can be treated with antibiotics, but surgery is sometimes needed to treat the infections. A patient with an SSI costs the health system about twice as much as a patient without an infection, which diverts much-needed resources away from other areas.

“New Zealand already has a Surgical Site Infection Surveillance Programme that standardises the collection and reporting of SSIs, and encourages hospital health care workers to adopt improvements proven to help prevent SSIs. The programme was rolled out to all DHBs this year, after a successful trial,” Mrs Adams said.

"Open for better care has allowed us to bring a focus to the great patient safety work already underway in our DHB, and provides us with an opportunity to build on that work,"

Choosing SSIs as the second focus area of Open for better care will highlight and promote the programme’s recommended actions, which 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.

Open for better care is coordinated nationally by the Health Quality & Safety Commission. Waikato DHB is working together with other Midland DHBs to implement the campaign across the Midland region.

More information about Open for better care is available at:


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