The Journal of Arthroplasty, Volume 35, Issue 2, 528 - 533

Measuring Surgical Site Infection From Linked Administrative Data Following Hip and Knee Replacement

Lethbridge, Lynn N. et al.
Hip Knee


Surgical site infections (SSIs) in hip and knee arthroplasty are increasing internationally. Current trends in SSI monitoring use single source administrative databases with data collection points commonly at 30 or 90 days. We hypothesize that SSI rates are being under-reported due to methodological biases.


Data from multiple administrative data sets were contrasted and compared to look at the 90-day SSI rates for hip and knee arthroplasty in a single province from 2001 to 2015. SSI rates were calculated over time by year, and the differences in infection rates between single and multiple administrative data sets were calculated as an estimate of under reporting rates of SSIs. Days until diagnosis was measured for those diagnosed with an infection within 1 year.


Combining administrative data sets indicates that hospital-based data underestimate SSI rates by 0.44 ( P < .0001) of a percentage point over all years, a clinically significant result given the overall infection rate of 2.2% over the period. Less than 50% of hip and knee arthroplasty was recorded as infected by 30 days and approximately 75% of cases were recorded as infected by 90 days.


Single source administrative data sets and short follow-up periods underestimate SSI rates. Administrative data sets should be combined and a minimum follow-up period of 90 days should be used to more accurately track SSI rates in hip and knee arthroplasty.

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