What can I do to help prevent surgical site infection?

One of the greatest benefits of having your procedure at a surgery center is the avoidance of hospital-borne infections. MOST patients who have surgery do not develop an infection. However, infections can develop in about 1 to 3 out of every 100 patients who have surgery, so it is important to take precautionary steps.

Before Your Surgery:

  • Tell your doctor about other medical problems you may have. Allergies, diabetes and obesity can affect your surgery and treatment.
  • Quit smoking. Patients who smoke get more infections. Talk to your doctor about how you can quit before your surgery.
  • Do not shave near where you will have surgery. Shaving with a razor can irritate your skin and make it easier to develop an infection.
  • Launder your towels, washcloths, and bed sheets to ensure you have clean linens ready to use once you return home.
  • On the day of your surgery, shower prior to arriving at the surgery center. Cleaning the skin helps kill germs.

After Your Surgery:

  • Make sure your healthcare providers clean their hands before examining you, either with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub. If you do not see your providers clean their hands, do not be embarrassed to request that they do so in front of you. Your safety and comfort is our top priority.
  • Make sure you understand how to care for your wound before you leave the center.

At Home:

  • Always clean your hands before and after caring for your wound. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Don’t forget your wrists, palms, back of hands, thumbs and under the fingernails.
  • Keep your dressing clean and dry,
  • If you have any symptoms of an infection, such as redness and pain at the surgery site, drainage, or fever, call your doctor immediately.
  • Family and friends should clean their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub before and after visiting you. If you do not see them clean their hands, please ask them to do so.
  • Although pets provide great comfort, they carry a lot of germs and should not sleep in your bed while you are recovering.
  • Make sure to eat plenty of healthy food and drink lots of fluids to promote healing.