Preventing Surgical Site Infections

What is a Surgical Site Infection (SSI)?

A surgical site infection is an infection that occurs after a surgery in the part of the body where the surgery took place. Most patients who have surgery do not develop an infection.

Some of the common symptoms of a surgical site infection are:

  • Redness and pain around the area where you had surgery.
  • Drainage of cloudy fluid from your surgical wound.
  • Fever.

What are some of the things that EvergreenHealth Surgery Care - Tan is doing to prevent SSIs?

To prevent SSIs our doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers:

  • Wash hands with an antiseptic agent or alcohol-based hand rub before and after caring for each patient.
  • Wear special hair covers, masks, gowns and gloves during surgery to keep the surgery area clean.
  • May give you antibiotics immediately before your surgery starts.
  • Keep you warm with an air blanket during surgery.
  • Clean the skin at the site of your surgery with a special soap that kills germs.

What can I do to help prevent SSIs?

Before your Surgery:

  • Tell your doctor about other medical problems you may have. If you had an SSI after a previous surgery or any other serious infection, please tell your doctor.
  • Health problems such as allergies, diabetes, cold/flu symptoms and obesity could affect your surgery and your treatment. If you have diabetes, monitor and make every effort to control your blood sugar.
  • Patients who smoke get more infections. Talk to your doctor about how you can quit smoking before your surgery.
  • Do not shave where you will have surgery. Shaving with a razor can irritate your skin and make it easier to develop an infection.
  • Shower and wash your hair the morning of the surgery. Do not apply lotions, powders, hair spray or makeup. Be sure to put on clean clothes after showering.
  • Notify the doctor’s office if you have a skin infection, rash or sores prior to surgery.

At the time of your surgery:

  • Speak up if you do not see a provider wash their hands.
  • Ask if you will get antibiotics before your surgery starts.

After your surgery:

  • Make sure your providers wash their hands before examining you. If you do not see them clean their hands, please ask them to do so.
  • Family and friends should clean their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub before and after visiting you.

What do I need to do when I go home from surgery?

  • Before you go home, your doctor or nurse should explain everything you need to know about taking care of your wound. Make sure you understand how to care for your wound before you leave EvergreenHealth Surgery Care - Tan.
  • Do not change your dressing or remove it unless instructed to do so. Keep the surgical site dry and notify your doctor if the dressing gets wet.
  • Always clean your hands before and after caring for your wound.
  • Before you go home make sure you know who to contact if you have questions or problems arise after you get home.
  • Before and after surgery it is important to keep you and your environment as clean as possible. Use clean linens, wear clean clothing and use disinfectants to clean surfaces such as bathroom fixtures. Don’t allow pets in your bed while you are recovering from surgery.
  • If you have any symptoms of an infection, such as redness and pain at the surgery site, drainage or fever, call your doctor immediately.