Background Surgical site infections (SSI) are a major cause of increased morbidity and cost after a pancreatectomy. Patients undergoing a pancreatectomy frequently have had recent inpatient hospital admissions prior to their surgical admission (recent pre-surgical admission, RPSA), which could increase the risk of SSI. Methods The 2009-2011 Healthcare Cost Utilization Project California State Inpatient Database was used. Chi-square tests, Student's t-tests and multivariable logistic regression were used. Results Three thousand three hundred and seventy-six patients underwent a pancreatectomy, and 444 (13.2%) had RPSA. One hundred and eighty (40.5%) RPSAs were to different hospitals other than where patients' pancreatectomy took place. In univariate analysis, patients with RPSA had a significantly higher rate of post-operative SSIs, and this was associated with a longer length of post-operative stay, higher post-operative hospital costs and increased postoperative 30-day readmission rates (Table 1). In Multivariate analysis, RPSA was an independent predictor of post-operative SSI [odds ratio (OR) = 1.68, P = 0.013], and the risk of SSI increased with increasing RPSA length of stay (OR = 1.07 per day, P = 0.001). Conclusions Recent pre-surgical admission is an important risk factor for SSI after a pancreatectomy. Many patients with RPSA are not admitted pre-operatively to the same hospital where the pancreatectomy occurs; in such circumstances, SSI rates may not be a sole reflection of the care provided by operating hospitals.