Having any type of surgery can be both necessary and stressful. It can raise questions including: What is the recovery process? How long will I be out of work? What do I do after leaving the hospital or surgery center?
Another important question patients should consider is: How do I avoid getting a surgical site infection (SSI)?
An SSI is an infection patients can get during or after surgery. SSIs happen on any part of the body where surgery takes place. Surgical site infections can sometimes be infections involving the skin only. Other surgical site infections are more serious and can involve tissues under the skin, organs, or implanted material.
These infections can make recovery from surgery more difficult because they can cause additional illness, stress, and cost. Therefore, it is important that appropriate prevention efforts are taken.
To prevent surgical site infections, doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers will take several measures to ensure that the surgical site is as clean as possible, including:
Cleaning their hands and arms up to the elbows with an antiseptic agent just before the surgery
Wearing hair covers, masks, gowns, and gloves during surgery to keep the surgery area clean
When indicated, giving you antibiotics before surgery starts
Cleaning the skin at the surgery site with a special soap that kills germs
How can you and your loved ones safeguard against surgical site infections?
Prior to your surgery, discuss other health problems, such as diabetes, with your doctor. These issues could affect your surgery and your treatment.
If you smoke, quit. Patients who smoke get more infections.
Follow your doctor's instructions for cleaning your skin before your surgery. For example, if your doctor recommends using a special soap before surgery, make sure you do so.
Ask if you need to get antibiotics prior to surgery.
After surgery, be sure to follow the recommendations below to protect against surgical site infection.
Ask your healthcare provider to clean their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub before they examine you or check your wound.
Ensure family and friends clean their hands before and after visiting you.
Do not allow visitors to touch the surgical wound or dressings.
Make sure you understand how to care for your wound before you leave the medical facility.
Always clean your hands before and after caring for your wound.
If you have any symptoms of an infection, such as redness and pain at the surgery site, drainage, or fever, call your doctor immediately.