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Surgical Site Infection Rates

A surgical site infection (SSI) is an infection that is acquired during the surgical process. Infections happen because germs are everywhere –on your skin, in the air and on things you touch. SSIs can be minor, or occasionally can increase complications that result in a longer length of stay in the hospital or readmission of patients.

The risk of acquiring a surgical site infection is higher if you:

  • Are an older adult
  • Have a weakened immune system or other serious health problem such as diabetes
  • Smoke
  • Are malnourished (don’t eat enough healthy foods)
  • Are very overweight
  • Have a wound that is left open instead of closed with sutures

Symptoms of SSIs can be:

  • Increased soreness, pain, or tenderness at the surgical site.
  • A red streak, increased redness, or puffiness near the incision.
  • Greenish-yellow or bad-smelling discharge from the incision.
  • Fever of 101 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
  • A tired feeling that doesn’t go away
  • Symptoms can appear at any time from hours to weeks after surgery. Implants such as an artificial knee or hip can become infected a year or more after the operation.

Health care providers should be taking the following precautions to prevent SSIs:

  • Practicing proper hand-washing techniques. Before the operation, the surgeon and all operating room staff should scrub their hands and arms with an antiseptic soap.
  • Cleaning the site where your incision is made with an antiseptic solution.
  • Wearing medical uniforms (scrub suits), long-sleeved surgical gowns, masks, caps, shoe covers and sterile gloves.
  • Covering the patient with a sterile drape with a hole where the incision is made.
  • Closely watching the patient’s blood sugar levels after surgery to make sure it stays within a normal range. High blood sugar delays the wound from healing.
  • Warming IV fluids, increasing the temperature in the operating room and providing warm-air blankets (if necessary) to ensure a normal body temperature. A lower-than-normal body
  • temperature during or after surgery prevents oxygen from reaching the wound, making it harder for your body to fight infection.
  • Clipping, not shaving any hair that has to be removed. This prevents tiny nicks and cuts through which germs can enter.
  • Covering your closed wound (closed with stitches) with sterile dressing for one or two days. If your wound is open, packing it with sterile gauze and cover it with sterile dressing.

Patients can also help in reducing chances of infection by:

  • Ask lots of questions. Learn what steps the hospital is taking to reduce the danger of infection.
  • If your doctor instructs, shower or bathe with antiseptic soap the night before and day of your surgery. You may be asked to use a special antibiotic cleanser that you don’t rinse off.
  • If you smoke, stop or at least cut down. Ask your doctor about ways to quit.
  • Only take antibiotics when told by a health care provider. Using antibiotics when they’re not needed can create germs that are harder to kill. If prescribed, finish all your antibiotics, even if you feel better.
  • After your surgery, eat healthy foods.
  • When you return home, care for your incision as instructed by your health care provider.

Ways to treat an infection:

  • Most infections are treated with antibiotics -the type of medication will depend on the germ causing the infection.
  • An infected skin wound may be reopened and cleaned.
  • If an infection occurs where an implant is placed, the implant may be removed.
  • If the infection is deep within the body, another operation may be needed to treat it.

Below is the quarterly break down of Surgical Site Infection cases at Woodstock Hospital in 2017 and 2018

QuarterFiscal year 2017Fiscal year 2018

Q1 April - June



Q2 July - September



Q3 October - December


Q4 January - March


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