Surgical Site Infection Hospital Quality Indicator. Search the best hospital.

A surgical site infection (SSI) is an infection that might occur after the surgery, on a body part where the surgery is performed. At times, this infection can be superficial and is associated with the skin alone. Some surgical site infections, however, can be more serious and affect tissues under the skin, organ or implanted material. Formula for calculating SSI rate: No. of SSI in a month/ No. of surgeries performed in that month x100.

Causes of Surgical Site Infection 

Surgical wounds can be infected by:
  • Germs that are already on the skin and have spread to the surgical wound
  • Germs that are inside your body or the organ on which surgery was performed
  • Germs that are in the air
  • Hands of a healthcare provider or caregiver
  • Surgical instruments

Additionally, patients are more prone to surgical wound infection when they:

  • Suffer from high diabetes
  • Have issues with their immunity system
  • Suffer from obesity
  • Smoke
  • Consume corticosteroids (a form of steroid hormones)
  • Have undergone surgery that lasts for more than 2 hours

Symptoms of SSI

Typical symptoms of SSI include redness, fever, pain, delayed healing, tenderness, warmth or swelling at the surgical site. Some other symptoms associated with specific types of SSI are:
  • A superficial incisional SSI may produce pus from the wound.
  • A deep incisional SSI may also produce pus and the wound may reopen on its own.
  • An organ SSI may show pus discharge from a drained platform through the skin into a body space or organ.

What hospitals are doing to prevent SSI?

SSI is a serious infection that can impact the overall quality care of the healthcare centers. In order to avoid the chances of this infection, healthcare organizations take the following measures:-

  • Surgeons clean their hands and arms up to their elbows with an antiseptic hand wash prior to the surgery.
  • If required, health care providers remove hair from the area where the surgery will be performed using an electric clipper.
  • Health care providers and medical staff who are a part of surgical team wear special hair covers, gowns, and gloves during the surgery to maintain optimum hygiene.
  • At times, patients are given antibiotics prior to the surgery (generally 60 minutes before) and the same is stopped within 24 hours after the surgery.
  • Medical staff cleans the site of surgery with special soap to kill germs.

What can patients do to prevent SSI?

Patients can take the following measures from their end to further avoid the chances of SSI:-

Before Surgery

  • Patients should clearly inform their healthcare providers regarding any past or current medical ailments. Health issues like allergies, diabetes or a low immune system can significantly impact the surgery and treatment.
  • Patients who smoke are more vulnerable to get infected. Consult a doctor regarding the same and get medical help to quit smoking before the surgery.
  • Patients should not shave the surgical area themselves. A normal shaving razor can irritate the skin, making it easier to develop an infection.

During Surgery

Enquire with medical staff as to why the surgical site needs to be shaved. Moreover, speak up if healthcare providers use a regular razor to shave the area.

After the Surgery

  • If healthcare providers don’t wash their hands after the surgery, request them to do so.
  • Don’t let visitors touch the wound or dressing.
  • Family and friends must wash their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub before and after the visit.
  • Obtain adequate knowledge with regards to taking care of wound before leaving the hospital.
  • Patients must also clean their hands before and after nursing their wounds.
  • Ensure to contact the healthcare provider regarding any query or problems.
  • If there is redness or pain, ensure to call the doctor immediately.

How SSI is treated?

Typically SSI is treated with antibiotics. The type and dosage of antibiotics depend on the germs causing the infection. However, in some extreme cases, patients with SSI have to undergo another surgery to treat the infection.

Taking Collective Steps to Avoid SSI

Surgical Site Infection is one of the most extreme healthcare infections that impacts the overall mortality rate of a healthcare center. In order to avoid it, healthcare providers, medical staff, and patients need to take careful precaution before, during, and after the surgery and following treatments.

Dr. Rishab Sharma

Dr. Rishab Sharma MBBS, MD (Internal Medicine) He is associated with Fortis Escorts Hospital, Jaipur. Dr. Rishab has wide experience in managing a variety of diseases, as well as managing critical care units in large government and corporate hospitals.

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