Impact of surgical site infection on healthcare costs and patient outcomes: a systematic review in six European countries

J. M. Badia, A. L. Casey, N. Petrosillo, P. M. Hudson, S. A. Mitchell, C. Crosby

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background Surgical site infections (SSIs) are associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Furthermore, SSIs constitute a financial burden and negatively impact on patient quality of life (QoL). Aim To assess, and evaluate the evidence for, the cost and health-related QoL (HRQoL) burden of SSIs across various surgical specialties in six European countries. Methods Electronic databases and conference proceedings were systematically searched to identify studies reporting the cost and HRQoL burden of SSIs. Studies published post 2005 in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, and the UK were eligible for data extraction. Studies were categorized by surgical specialty, and the primary outcomes were the cost of infection, economic evaluations, and HRQoL. Findings Twenty-six studies met the eligibility criteria and were included for analysis. There was a paucity of evidence in the countries of interest; however, SSIs were consistently associated with elevated costs, relative to uninfected patients. Several studies reported that SSI patients required prolonged hospitalization, reoperation, readmission, and that SSIs increased mortality rates. Only one study reported QoL evidence, the results of which demonstrated that SSIs reduced HRQoL scores (EQ-5D). Hospitalization reportedly constituted a substantial cost burden, with additional costs arising from medical staff, investigation, and treatment costs. Conclusion Disparate reporting of SSIs makes direct cost comparisons difficult, but this review indicated that SSIs are extremely costly. Thus, rigorous procedures must be implemented to minimize SSIs. More economic and QoL studies are required to make accurate cost estimates and to understand the true burden of SSIs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Hospital Infection
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2017


  • Economic burden
  • Europe
  • Quality of life
  • Surgery
  • Surgical site infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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