Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

RCSI initiative to prevent infection following surgery and maximise patient safety

08 September 2010

Surgical Development Initiative builds on WHO “Safe Surgery Saves Lives” measures

The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) is launching a new education initiative for trainee surgeons to help prevent infection in patients following surgery and to improve patient safety. 

Prof Arnold Hill, Professor of Surgery at RCSI, said: ‘RCSI’s new Surgical Development Initiative is in line with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recent prioritisation of patient safety to prevent healthcare-associated infection (HCAI) and its “Safe Surgery Saves Lives” initiative which is endorsed by RCSI.’

Prof Hilary Humphreys, RCSI Department of Clinical Microbiology said: ‘RCSI is committed to promoting safe surgery and advancing the highest standards of surgical care for patients. Education to improve practice is a key component in preventing healthcare-associated infection and this RCSI initiative will maximise patient safety by enhancing the education of surgical trainees.’

Healthcare-associated infection (HCAI) affects between one in ten and one in twenty patients admitted acutely to hospital *.  Some of these follow surgical procedures, such as surgical site or wound infections after abdominal surgery and bloodstream infection arising from infected peripheral venous catheters or ‘drips’. 

The RCSI Surgical Development Initiative is being launched this month to the new group of surgical trainees who are commencing their basic surgical training in July. Delivered by a web-based method, the initiative has been developed specifically for surgical trainees, to improve practice in the areas of hand hygiene, the optimal use of antibiotics before surgery to prevent infection (antimicrobial prophylaxis), the care of surgical sites after surgery and the prevention of bloodstream infection which can result from infected intravascular devices, such as catheters or ‘drips’. 

This teaching programme will assess the trainee’s current practice, their knowledge of interventions to minimise HCAI, and facilitate access to national and international guidelines.  RCSI has carried out an audit of surgical practice and this will be repeated following the delivery of this teaching programme to measure the effectiveness of the initiative.

The Surgical Development Initiative is a joint initiative between the RCSI Departments of Clinical Microbiology and Surgery and the Faculty of Nursing.

For further information on the initiative visit