What Patients Can Do to Reduce the Risk of Surgical Site Infection

Undergoing a surgical procedure can be stressful. The last thing a patient should have to worry about is suffering from preventable complications, such as a surgical site infection (SSI). Yet the reality is that these kinds of infections are among the most common hospital-acquired infections (HAIs).

Despite measures to reduce the chance of an SSI, they continue to happen. According to a 2012 study by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2010, 31 percent of all HAIs were SSIs.

Is there anything a patient can do to reduce the risk of developing a surgical site infection?

Getting educated on SSIs is the first step in reducing the chance of developing one. For instance, understanding some of the factors that increase risk.

The following can increase your risk of developing an SSI:

  • previous medical conditions (make sure the surgeon has a medical history);
  • the type of surgery (some are more susceptible to germs entering the wound); and
  • the impact of one’s lifestyle (weight and smoking).

Observing hygiene practices of medical staff is important, both before and after the procedure. It’s also critical that others (such as family or friends) wash their hands when entering your room and don’t touch the dressings or the sutured area.

When it’s time to leave the hospital, know how to properly care for the wound. Discuss this with your doctor and ask questions if you don’t understand something. Before and after leaving, if there are signs of an infection (pain, redness, swelling, pus draining, fever) bring it to the doctor’s attention right away. If a bacterial infection at the surgery site is left untreated, it could turn life-threatening. 

If the medical team is responsible for a bacterial infection following your surgery, contact a lawyer to learn more about your right to pursue legal action. Contact Jason R. Schultz today at 404-474-0804.

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