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Preventing Errors and Infections During Surgery: Steps for Hospital Staff and Patients
- Adopt safety techniques and procedures
- Report on how well they are implementing these procedures
- Regularly train hospital staff
- Meet to discuss errors on a regular basis
What the Hospital Staff Will Do to Prevent...
Patient Identification Errors
- Identify each patient with the treatment or service intended for him or her
- Match the treatment or service to the specific patient
- Have a specially trained and dedicated infection control staff
- Regularly educate all surgeons and staff on infection control measures
- Vaccinate and treat personnel for exposure to infection at all times
- Implement computer-assisted decision support and reminders that help doctors know when and how much antibiotic or other medication to give you
- Treat any other infections you have, such as urinary tract infections, if able
- Perform a surgical scrubbing of the arms and forearms
- Use an antiseptic on your skin
- Remove hair from your body only if needed and in the most sterile manner, such as clipping or using depilatory cream
- Give you prophylactic antibiotics within 1-2 hours
- Wear special gowns, masks, gloves, and hair covers that act as a barrier to microorganisms
- Keep the surgical area free of germs by using special sterile drapes and other antimicrobial barriers
- Limit the number of people coming into and out of the operating room
- Keep the operating room at a comfortable temperature, generally 68°F to 73°F (20°C to 22.7°C), to prevent infection
- Keep the surgery time as short as possible
- Discontinue antibiotics within 24-48 hours after surgery
- Control your blood sugar levels
- Control bleeding
- Minimize catheter use and duration
- Keep the main wound covered with sterile dressing for 24-48 hours
- Discontinue IVs as soon as possible
- Use sterile techniques when handling tools and changing wound dressings or catheters, such as:
- Wash hands
- Wear a mask
- Unfold supplies in an ordered manner on a sterile surface
- Carefully put on gloves
Other Steps You Can Take
- Wash your hands often and make sure visitors do, too. You may consider using an antibacterial wash.
- Stay warm before your procedure.
- Make sure your healthcare providers are washing their hands and wearing gloves and masks.
- Use tissues, or cough and sneeze into the bend of your elbow.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Eat a nutritious, healthy diet.
- Keep blood sugar levels under control.
- Quit smoking.
- Use clean techniques around your surgical wound:
- Do not let others touch you near your surgical wound.
- Follow your doctor's instructions for using a sterile technique and special kits for your post-surgical needs.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov
The Joint Commission http://www.jointcommission.org
Canadian Medical Association http://www.cma.ca
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
2014 Hospital national patient safety goals. The Joint Commission website. Available at: http://www.jointcommission.org/assets/1/6/2014%5FHAP%5FNPSG%5FE.pdf. Published October 24, 2013. Accessed November 21, 2013.
FAQs about surgical site infections. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/HAI/pdfs/ssi/SSI%5Ftagged.pdf. Accessed November 21, 2013.
Preventing healthcare-associated infections. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/HAI/prevent/prevention.html. Updated April 17, 2012. Accessed November 21, 2013.
Surgical wound infection—prevention. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated November 13, 2013. Accessed November 21, 2013.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 11/2013
- Update Date: 11/21/2013