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Reducing Surgical Site Infections

By doing just a few simple things, like ensuring antibiotics are given on time, we can be confident we’re doing what we can to prevent surgical site infections – and that means our patients can return home sooner.

-Susan Macknak RN, Director of Peri-Operative Services, Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region

According to Safer Healthcare Now!, surgical site infections (SSIs) are a frequent type of adverse event for hospitalized patients. In a Canadian study of healthcare-associated infection, they accounted for 21 percent of the reported infections. Each Regional Health Authority that performs surgery has a surveillance program that monitors rates and informs health care providers when an surgical site infection occurs.

Regional Health Authorities are implementing an surgical site infection prevention bundle that is validated by Safer Healthcare Now! and consists of four care processes that, when carried out together, are proven to reduce the likelihood of developing a surgical site infection.

Antibiotics and Skin Preparation: Antibiotics should be administered within one hour prior to surgery. Given properly, antibiotics can lower the chance of infection post-surgery. The surgical site will be cleaned using an antiseptic solution, which also lowers the chance of an infection.

Hair Removal: If hair needs to be removed from the surgical site, it should be clipped just before surgery. The patient should not shave or remove the hair at the incision site as this can increase the chance of infection due to small cuts in the skin.

Blood Glucose: Controlling glucose in diabetic patients during surgery helps to reduce chance of infection.

Temperature: Keeping warm during surgery reduces the chance of infection post-surgery, so patient temperature should be monitored before, during, and after surgery.

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