Quality Care for Surgical Care Improvement Project Care
Hospitals can reduce the risk of wound infection after surgery by providing the right medicines at the right time on the day of surgery.
Patients undergoing surgery should expect to receive the following standard treatments:
- Antibiotic received within 1 hour of surgical incision
- Antibiotic discontinued within 24 hours after surgery
Antibiotic received within 1 hour of surgical incision - Antibiotics are medicines to prevent and treat infections. Research shows that surgery patients who get antibiotics within the hour before their operation are less likely to get wound infections. Getting an antibiotic earlier, or after surgery begins, is not as effective. This shows how often hospitals make sure surgery patients get antibiotics at the right time.
Antibiotic discontinued within 24 hours after surgery - While the likelihood of infection after surgery can be reduced by giving patients preventative antibiotics, taking these antibiotics for more than 24 hours after routine surgery is usually not necessary and can increase the risk of side effects such as stomach aches, serious types of diarrhea, and antibiotic resistance (when antibiotics are used too much, they will not work anymore.) There are exceptions – for example, where the surgical site has been contaminated (making the surgery not routine).Talk to your doctor if you have questions about how long you should take antibiotics after surgery.
There are also steps that you, as a patient, can take to make sure the surgery is as safe as possible. For example, your doctor or nurse can tell you how to wash with an antibiotic soap the day before surgery. You can also give your doctor or nurse a list of all your medications, including vitamins, herbal medicines, and over-the-counter medications. You should also tell your doctor or nurse about any allergies and bad reactions to anesthesia. For more information about steps you can take to make healthcare safer, click here.
Sometimes patients get an infection after surgery, even if the hospital took steps to prevent it. Here are signs to look out for:
- The surgical wound is red, hot, and swollen.
- You have a fever of over 100 degrees after you go home.
- A smelly or yellow/green fluid is coming out of the wound.
- Your pain is increasing even though you are taking pain medication.
Call your doctor or local hospital immediately if you have any of these signs.