A guide to infections reported in private healthcare and how you can use this information to inform discussions with your consultant.

Infections

Hospitals are required to keep records on infections. While hospitals can’t prevent all infections from developing, monitoring infections helps to protect future patients as hospitals learn where they have good processes to stop infections from spreading, and where they can make improvements.

We publish information on two types: Healthcare Associated Infections and Surgical Site Infections.

Healthcare Associated Infections (HCAIs)

Healthcare-associated infections (HCAI) are a specific list of infections, such as MRSA and E.coli, which are reported to Public Health England and to PHIN for privately funded care.

These infections can be contracted in a number of ways:

  • as a direct result of hospital treatment, or from being in a hospital;
  • as a result of healthcare received in the community;
  • or contracted outside of hospital and brought in by patients, staff or visitors and transmitted to others.


Surgical Site Infections (SSI)

Surgical Site Infections (SSI) are infections that occur in the part of the body that has been operated on. These can develop as the part of the body operated on is more vulnerable to infection following surgery or because of poor infection control processes.

In line with guidance from Public Health England, these infections are currently only monitored for hip and knee replacement surgery.


What can infections information tell you about a hospital?

The first thing you should look for is whether the hospital is monitoring and reporting their infections.

Hospitals that record and report infections are likely to have a strong focus on patient safety and care. If your hospital does not have infections information on their profile, you should ask why they don’t, and what this might mean for your care.

If a hospital has a higher number of infections compared to another hospital, this could be for several reasons. For example, it might mean that they treat more ‘at risk’ groups such as more unwell or older patients, or it could indicate a need to improve their processes to stop infections spreading.

A hospital that only performs simple procedures might expect to have fewer infections. Whereas hospitals which treats sicker patients might expect to have more infections but may also have more experience in preventing them from spreading.

The numbers that are on our website can’t tell you the full story of what is going on at each hospital, so this information is best used during discussions with your consultant or hospital.


Your checklist

  1. Check your preferred hospital on PHIN’s website. If they aren’t monitoring and reporting their infections, what could this mean for your care?
  2. Understand your hospital’s infection rates. Use the infection numbers and rates on PHIN’s website as an indication of what the risks might be for your operation.
  3. Ask questions. Use our information to ask your GP or consultant about the hospital’s infection control and hygiene procedures. You need to be confident that they are the right hospital for you.


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