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Healthcare Associated Infections

Recognising Surgical Site Infections

Educational resources to improve practice in diagnosis and reporting of surgical site infection (SSI) and to aid understanding of the implications of a SSI on the patient.

These resources are part of the intermediate layer of the Scottish Infection Prevention and Control Education Pathway.  Further information about the pathway is available on the pathway webpage.


Surgical site infection is one of the most common types of healthcare associated infection (HAI), estimated to account for 16.5% of inpatient HAI within NHSScotland. Surgical site infections cause excess morbidity and mortality and are estimated on average to double the cost of treatment, mainly due to the resultant increase in length of stay.  Surgical site infections can have serious consequences for patients affected as they can result in increased pain, social disruption and in some cases require additional surgical intervention.

Key content

  • Impact of surgical site infections on patients
  • Understanding and applying national surgical site infection definitions
  • Recording a surgical site infection
  • Wound specimen collection
  • Interpreting results

Target audience

All healthcare staff involved in data collection for SSI surveillance, assessment and management of surgical sites and involved in the diagnosis and/or treatment of SSI including the following:

  • Surgical Nurses (including Orthopaedics)
  • Surveillance Nurses (particularly newly appointed)
  • Surgeons
  • Junior medical staff
  • Operating theatre nurses and midwives
  • Surgical practitioners
  • Surgical outpatients clinic staff
  • Obstetrics staff
  • Hospital and community midwives
  • District Nurses
  • General Practitioners

Registration and Access

This resource is available on learnPro NHS for health boards.  Further information about registration and access can be found at our learnPro information page.

This resource is available on Turas Learn for NHS Grampain. Access the resource on Turas Learn (in the IPC Zone) at

There are two modules, which can be found under the Infection Prevention and Control tab within learnPro and these are called

NES: Recognising Surgical Site Infections
NES: Recognising Surgical Site Infections (C-section)

Further Information

The anticipated online learning time is around one hour to complete the module. On completion of the module you can print a "Statement of Completion".

You can also access the train the trainer resources on Recognising Surgical Site Infections - see webpage for more information. 


Resource launched June 2015. Updated November 2017. Due for update 2019.