Having Surgery? Check Out These Tips from the CDC

A surgical site infection is one that happens in the part of the body where an operation has taken place.

Nearly one in five hospital infections happens at the surgical site according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The CDC has tips that can help you and your health care team prevent surgical site infections.  They will tell you what you can do before and after your operation to reduce the risk that you’ll get an infection.

Before your surgery

  • Be sure your doctors know about any medical conditions like diabetes or allergies you have.
  • If you smoke — stop.  Smokers get more infections.
  • Don’t shave near where your operation will take place.  If hair needs to be removed, hospital staff should not use a razor, but electric clippers.
  • Stop anyone who wants to shave your skin with a razor.  Ask them to use clippers.
  • Check with your doctors to see if you should have antibiotics.

After your surgery

  • Ask the health care team if they have washed their hands or used an alcohol-based skin-sanitizers before they touch you or your surgical wound.
  • Insist that your family and visitors clean their hands with soap and water or skin sanitizer before and after they visit you.
  • Don’t let your visitors touch the surgical wound or dressings.
  • Clean your own hands before caring for your surgical wound or touching it.
  • Once you are home, if you have signs of an infection at the surgical site — redness, pain, drainage, fever — call your doctor immediately.

CDC Frequently Asked Questions about Surgical Site Infections

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