Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Nursing Honours


School of Nursing


Faculty of Health and Human Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Sue Nikoletti


Many postoperative wound infections are not being detected by traditional methods of surveillance of hospital acquired infections, due to decreasing length of hospital stay Unless some form of postdischarge surveillance is undertaken, rates of hospital acquired infections will he underestimated. While Infection Control Practitioners are aware of this problem, implementation of postdischarge surveillance is hampered by lack of research into suitable cost-effective methods. This study describes the implementation and feasibility of postdischarge surveillance by telephone interview and compares rates of infection in a private hospital before and after discharge. During a five month period a systematic sample of 300 clients was interviewed by telephone, 30 days after surgery. The data were analysed using descriptive statistics to summarise the incidence of self-reported signs of infection in clients after discharge. A comparison was made of infection rates based on pre- and postdischarge surveillance. The time and costs involved in performing this method of surveillance were calculated. The results suggest that telephone interview as a method of contacting patients postdischarge is feasible with 87% of the sample being contacted and 90% of the interviews conducted lasting less than 5 minutes. However, the economic feasibility of using this method of postdischarge surveillance for all surgical procedures needs to be taken into consideration when postdischarge surveillance is planned. The study identified an inpatient infection rate of 0.8% compared to a postdischarge rate of 3.6%. The study also questioned the necessity of collecting information regarding non-specific signs of infection (redness, swelling. pain and elevated temperature) when carrying out postdischarge surveillance by telephone interview. Additionally issues relating to the importance of patient education were highlighted.

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