Published online Nov 30, 2009. doi: 10.4240/wjgs.v1.i1.11
Revised: August 25, 2009
Accepted: September 1, 2009
Published online: November 30, 2009
With the introduction of quality assurance in health care delivery, there has been a proliferation of research studies that compare patient outcomes for similar conditions among many health care delivery facilities. Since the 1990s, increasing interest has been placed in the incorporation of clinical adverse events as quality indicators in hospital quality assurance programs. Adverse post-operative events, and very especially surgical site infection (SSI) rates after specific procedures, gained popularity as hospital quality indicators in the 1980s. For a SSI rate to be considered a valid indicator of the quality of care, it is essential that a proper adjustment for patient case mix be performed, so that meaningful comparisons of SSI rates can be made among surgeons, institutions, or over time. So far, a significant impediment to developing meaningful hospital-acquired infection rates that can be used for intra- and inter-hospital comparisons has been the lack of an adequate means of adjusting for case mix. This paper discusses what we have learned in the last years regarding risk adjustment of SSI rates for provider performance assessment, and identifies areas in which significant improvement is still needed.