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Variability in the diagnosis of surgical-site infections after full-thickness skin grafting: an international survey

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BACKGROUND: Diagnosis of a surgical-site infection (SSI) in dermatological surgery can be based entirely on a subjective assessment, according to the fourth criterion of the most common definition of an SSI, which was established by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

OBJECTIVES: To investigate the interobserver agreement between dermatologists in their diagnosis of SSI of dermatosurgical wounds.

METHODS: An international electronic photographic survey with eight photographs of wounds 1 week after full-thickness skin grafting (FTSG) was sent to dermatologists. All wounds were assessed in terms of visual criteria beforehand. Data collected from respondents included physician characteristics and experience, and SSI assessments of all wounds.

RESULTS: In total, 393 dermatologists from 27 countries enrolled. Most respondents were from the U.S.A. (25%), followed by Sweden (24%) and the U.K. (13%). There was only a slight interobserver agreement on SSI suspicion (κ = 0·19). SSI suspicion was lower for male physicians (P = 0·03), board-certified dermatologists (P = 0·001), physicians regularly assessing surgical wounds (P = 0·03) and physicians performing FTSG (P < 0·001). Swedish physicians diagnosed more SSIs than U.S. physicians (P = 0·002). Erythema was more common in cases with higher SSI suspicion.

CONCLUSIONS: This study reveals broad inter-rater variability in the diagnosis of SSI, illustrating the need for novel objective diagnostic methods that can better capture the variables that constitute an SSI.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Dermatology
Volume180
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)1169-1175
Number of pages7
ISSN0007-0963
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2019

ID: 58974571