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Preventing surgical site infections: Why it should be a priority

Patients in Pennsylvania should feel confident going into surgery that their surgeon is going to do everything in their power to ensure that the surgery is a success. While patients do assume the potential for some risk during many medical procedures, that does not release providers from the responsibility of the standard of care. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one of the common healthcare-related infections is a surgical site infection. This complication can range from mild to life-threatening. 

About SSI 

An infection that develops at the site of a surgery is an SSI. The infection may only affect the skin surrounding the surgical site, but it may go deeper and affect tissues and organs. In the worst cases it can turn into sepsis, a potentially life-threatening condition. 

Preventing SSI 

Healthcare providers should be doing all they can to try to prevent SSI. Some of the CDC guidelines for healthcare workers include the following: 

  • Wear protective gear like gloves, masks, and surgical gowns while prepping for and performing surgery 
  • Before surgery, wash hands and arms with antiseptic up to the elbows and always wash hands or use a sanitizing rub when caring for patients 
  • Use electric clippers, not a razor, if a patient needs hair shaved around the surgical site 
  • Clean the surgical site area with antiseptic soap 
  • Give the patient antibiotics before and after surgery 

A review of surgical times and SSI published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., showed that prolonged surgical times also increased the risk for SSI and concluded that providers should focus on reducing operative times in order to diminish occurrences of SSI. If a healthcare provider failed to provide the standard of care to prevent SSI, they may be liable for damages.