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How to Prevent Infection Post-Surgery

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How to Prevent Infection Post-Surgery

Going into surgery can be a worrisome time, and you have many factors going through your mind. Surgery can make many patients feel at the mercy of others, but one way to take charge of treatment is to make the healing process go as quickly and smoothly as possible. According to the CDC, one to three out of every 100 patients develops an infection after surgery. Here’s a guide on how to prevent infection post-surgery for patients.

Keep it clean

Keeping clean is one of the main ways to prevent any infection, especially a post-operative one. It’s not just the surgery site that needs to be clean.

Keep your hands clean

Clean hands are essential to prevent infections. People do just about everything with their hands, including care for wounds. Thoroughly clean hands before touching the incision site or removing post-operative bandages.

Keep your wounds clean

Make sure to clean the wound exactly as the doctor described, and do so as often as recommended. Cleaning too much could lead to further injury, and neglecting to clean the wound often leads to infection.

Follow instructions

Doctors come up with post-care plans with intention and thought. These plans only work if the patient follows the directions given by the doctor diligently.

Follow pre-operation instructions

Often, surgeons recommend washing with a special soap the night before surgery. If directed to do so, taking this step helps prevent the development of infection in the operating room.

Keep up on antibiotics or other medications

Some patients are given antibiotics before and after surgery, and other patients simply get antibiotics an hour before the procedure and 24 hours after it. Make sure to follow the doctor’s recommendation.

Do not apply ointment unless provided by a doctor

While putting some ointment on a recent wound might sound like a relief, it can lead to serious infections. Only apply medicines and lotions provided, or recommended, by a doctor.

Set yourself up for success

A lot of infection prevention is in the patient’s hands. Patients must do everything they can to ensure their surgery goes smoothly.

Discuss pre-existing conditions with doctors

Always disclose preexisting conditions to doctors because these may impact your ability to fight infections.

Quit smoking

Smoking increases a patients’ risk of developing infections, and it lowers their ability to fight infections. Stopping smoking permanently or for as long as possible before and after surgery.

Wear compression garments

Medical-grade compression socks help to keep the circulatory and venous systems working at their full potential. Venous systems that work faster can speed up wound healing processes. Compression is also known to reduce the appearance of scars.

Advocate for yourself

Patient advocacy goes a long way in treatment plans. Although doctors do everything they can, patients are ultimately responsible for their care.

Ask your care team questions

If you have lingering concerns or don’t fully understand aftercare instructions, don’t feel afraid to speak up and ask for clarification from your care team.

Watch for signs of infection

Watch your incision site for signs of infection. These signs include redness, swelling, excessive drainage, extreme soreness, and fever. If any signs present themselves, seek medical attention immediately.

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  • Elyse Aufmann
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