Currently, there are over 40 million inpatient and 31 million outpatient surgeries performed annually in the US. Despite advancements in technology and best practices, infections at the surgical site continue to be the second most common issue affecting hospitalized patients, affecting about 1.4 million people per year. A surgical site infection (SSI) has been proven to double the patient’s risk of death from 3.5% to 7.8%, increase the likelihood of an ICU stay, lengthen hospital stays, and increase the probability of readmission from 7% to 41 percent.
Any SSI may cause redness around the area, delayed healing of surgical site, pain, tenderness, warmth, swelling, and fever. Depending on the severity of the SSI, pus may be found around the surgical site or an abscess may be found within the wound. These infections are typically caused by germs in the air or on the body, or by a contaminated touch. Complete wound care can minimize the spread of germs and reduce the risk of an SSI.
Some patients, especially seniors and overweight individuals, may be at an increased risk for developing post-surgical infections. Other risk factors include having a surgery that lasts more than 2 hours, having other medical problems or diseases at the time of surgery, having a weak immune system, or having emergency or abdominal surgery.
Beyond simple health reasons, post-surgical infections can be costly. Patients who developed an infection saw an average charge that was four times higher than patients admitted with the same diagnosis and severity of illness who did not develop an infection. More importantly, a patient with an SSI may end up doubling their hospital stay up to 10 days. Ensuring a physician-prescribed care plan is followed can be potentially life-saving. Hiring a licensed nurse to help with wound care can provide you and your loved ones with peace of mind knowing that a medical professional has the expertise to help you successfully recover from surgery. At NurseRegistry, RN’s and LVN’s can provide critical post-surgical care and wound care in the comfort of your home, or can act as personal in-hospital advocates to provide you with specialized one-on-one care during your stay.
The risk of infection continues even after the patient leaves the hospital. Over 65% of all inpatient surgery SSIs are identified after the patient leaves the facility. Even though physicians and nurses educate patients and their loved ones on proper wound care, it is important to know some of the signs and symptoms of an SSI and to be proactive about organizing post-hospital care. Good communication between physicians and the individuals completing your post-surgical care routines can also reduce the risk of an SSI.
If you choose a home care agency to assist you with your transition from hospital to home, remember that a professional caregiver cannot provide medical care, including wound care. This type of unskilled care may work best in conjunction with skilled care from a qualified nurse, who can provide care to reduce the risk of hospital readmission, protecting your health. A private nurse can also teach you or a loved one how to clean the wound and can manage antibiotics or any medications that are part of the post-hospital recovery process.
While surgical site infections are recognized as one of the most prevalent healthcare-associated infections, with proper guidance and practices, it is also one of the most preventable. If you or a loved one has a surgery scheduled in the coming weeks, call our care team at 650-462-1001 to learn more about how a licensed nurse can assist you with a successful post-surgical recovery.
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Shepard, J., “Financial Impact of Surgical Site Infections on Hospitals: The Hospital Management Perspective,” JAMA Surgery, 2013; Volume 148, Issue 10, pp. 907-914.
Smith, MA, “Clinical Practice Guideline Surgical Site Infection Prevention,” Orthopedic Nursing, October 2013, Volume 32, Issue 5, pp. 242-248.