2017 Infection Rate: 0.09%

What can patients do to prevent SSIs?

Before surgery:

  • Tell your doctor about other medical problems you may have. Health problems such as allergies, diabetes and obesity could affect your surgery and your treatment.
  • Maintaining blood glucose (sugar) control before, during and for two days after surgery may reduce the risk of complications and improve your outcome.
  • QUIT SMOKING. Patients who smoke get more infections. Talk to your doctor about how you can quit before your surgery. Consider a smoking cessation program. This will reduce your chances of infection after surgery and will increase your body’s ability to heal.
  • Do not shave the area near the surgical site. Shaving with a razor can irritate your skin and make it easier to develop an infection.
  • Take a shower or bathe the night before and morning of your surgical procedure, washing with an antiseptic soap (chlorhexidine is the most effective), paying particular attention to the area of your body that will be operated on.
  • Hand Hygiene is the most effective way of preventing the spread of infection. The chances of developing an infection can be significantly reduced if healthcare staff cleanse their hands before and after examining patients. Please ask healthcare staff who come to examine you if they have washed their hands or used the alcohol hand rub. Do not feel embarrassed or awkward when requesting this information as they welcome your help in keeping you safe.


Following Surgery:

  • Make sure you know what to expect during recovery, both at the facility and at home. Ask who will be responsible for your care after you are discharged and who to contact with questions. If you have a wound, make sure you receive instructions for wound care and follow them carefully. Always clean your hands before and after caring for your wound.
  • Hand Hygiene is the most effective way of preventing the spread of infection. You should practice good hand hygiene after using the bathroom, before eating, after shaking hands, after blowing your nose and before and after touching the bandage on your surgical incision. This applies to visitors and care providers at home as well.
  • Avoid touching your wound. Family and friends who visit you should not touch the surgical wound or dressings.
  • Drink plenty of fluids and get plenty of rest.
  • Progress your diet as directed. Please be sure to get plenty of fruit, vegetables and protein to aid healing.
  • Limit smoking.
  • Take all medications as prescribed.
  • Please notify your doctor of symptoms of infection, such as redness and pain at the surgical site, drainage of cloudy fluid from your wound, or fever.
  • Surgical site infections may not always occur within a few days or a week; if signs of infection are seen even a few weeks after surgery, notify your doctor.

*This material is excerpted from the “Patient Guides on Healthcare –Associated Infections” co-sponsored by SHEA, IDSA, AHA, APIC, CDC and The Joint Commission.