Australian Health Review Australian Health Review Society
Journal of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association

Postoperative infection rates in foot and ankle surgery: a clinical audit of Australian podiatric surgeons, January to December 2007

Paul Butterworth A D , Mark F. Gilheany B and Paul Tinley C

A La Trobe University Podiatry Clinic, Kingsbury Drive, Bundoora, VIC 3086, Australia.

B East Melbourne Podiatry, Suite 4, 2nd floor Landsdowne House, 182–184 Victoria Parade, East Melbourne, VIC 3004, Australia. Email:

C School of Community Health, Faculty of Science, Charles Sturt University, PO Box 789, Albury, NSW 2640, Australia. Email:

D Corresponding author. Email:

Australian Health Review 34(2) 180-185
Submitted: 1 September 2008  Accepted: 25 November 2009   Published: 25 May 2010


Background. Surgical site infections are one of the most common post-operative complications encountered by foot and ankle surgeons. The incidence reported in the literature varies between 0.5 and 6.5%. The results of a 12-month Australia-wide clinical audit analysing the rates of postoperative infections in association with podiatric surgery are presented.

Methods. De-identified patient data was collected from nine podiatric surgeons Australia-wide. Infections were identified according to Australian Council on Health Care Standards (ACHS) definitions and data was entered no earlier than thirty days post procedure.

Results. A total of 1339 patient admissions and 2387 surgical procedures were reported using the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) and Medicare Benefit Schedule (MBS) coding systems. The overall infection rate was 3.1% and the rate of infection resulting in hospital re-admission was 0.25%.

Conclusions. The benchmark results presented in this paper suggest that infection rates associated with podiatric surgery are well within accepted industry standards as stated in recent literature.

What is known about the topic? The rates of infection in foot and ankle surgery have been reported in international literature to vary between 0.5 and 6.5%. No such data has been published to date, which describes the rate of infection following podiatric surgery in Australia.

What does this paper add? This paper provides benchmark data on complication rates associated with Australian podiatric surgeons. Such data also informs health and hospital managers who may be considering podiatric surgery as an option for providing foot surgery services within the public hospital system.

What are the implications for practitioners? This paper challenges podiatric surgeons to consider their own practice and whether it is a reflection of best practice.


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