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What are surgical site infections and how can I help prevent them?

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Redness, swelling and pain near the area

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Red streaks coming from the area

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Blood, fluid or pus draining from the area

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A foul odor coming from the surgery area

Screening patients for existing infections before surgery

Research suggests the risk of surgical site infections increases up to nine times due to nasal colonization of staphylococcus aureus, presenting a big challenge in surgical settings. 30% of people are already nasally colonized with staphylococcus aureus when they reach the operating room.1
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, also known as MRSA, is the leading cause of SSIs, and yet surgical settings don’t always include testing for it in their pre-operative care. Nasal swab tests allow you to detect and identify MRSA for better prevention and control. Screen patients for MRSA and decolonize carriers with an intranasal topical antimicrobial.

Monitoring and maintaining normal blood glucose before surgery

The CDC recommends screening preoperative blood sugar levels in patients undergoing elective procedures such as arthroplasties and spinal fusions. Patients’ blood sugar levels may rise due to the stress of the surgery, but high blood sugar delays wound healing and increases the chances for infection.2
It’s also important to maintain normal patient temperature. A lower-than-normal temperature during or after surgery can prevent oxygen from reaching the wound and make it harder for the patient’s body to fight infection. Warming the room or bed can help.3
Both blood sugar levels and patient temperature need to be in the normal range to promote post-surgery healing.

Preparing patients’ skin before surgery

About 80% of skin flora occurs on the outside layers of the skin. One square centimeter of skin can host as many as 10 million aerobic bacteria, a leading cause of healthcare-acquired infections.4
Preparing patients’ skin for surgical procedures is a recommended practice in preventing surgical site infections. Patients should bathe or shower with CHG soap at least three days before surgery for best results, and a skin prep applicator should be used to help reduce skin flora and the risk of surgical site infections.

Surgical scrubs

Skin prep

Appropriate antibiotic practices before surgery

Preoperative antibiotic prophylaxis is defined as administering antibiotics before performing surgery to help decrease the risk of postoperative infections. It is recommended that prophylactic antibiotics are administered at least 30 minutes, but no more than 60 minutes before the skin incision is made, and generally stopped within 24 hours after surgery.5

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