Surgical Care Improvement

Thousands of patients undergo surgery each year. Hospitals can reduce the risk of wound infection after surgery by making sure patients get the right medicines at the right time on the day of their surgery. You, as a patient, play an important role 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 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 you have had.

These quality measures show some of the standards of care provided:
  • Preventive antibiotics are given within one hour of surgery
  • Antibiotics are stopped within 24 hours after surgery, or 48 hours for heart surgery
  • In addition, we also want to see if heart patients have well controlled blood sugar the first two mornings after surgery
  • Surgery patients get appropriate hair removal

Preventive antibiotics given within one hour of surgery

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Antibiotics are medicines used to prevent and treat infections. Getting an antibiotic within one hour prior to the surgical cut (incision) can reduce the risk of wound infections. The chances of getting an infection is reduced if antibiotics are already working in the bloodstream when the surgeon starts the operation.

Why is this important?

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.


Antibiotics stopped after surgery

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It is important to stop giving preventative antibiotics within 24 hours after surgery to avoid side effects such as stomach aches, serious types of diarrhea and antibiotic resistance (when antibiotics are used too much, they will not work anymore). However, for certain surgeries, antibiotics may be needed for a longer time.

Why is this important?

Antibiotics are medicines to prevent and treat infections. 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.


Controlled blood sugar

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It is recommended that heart surgery patients have well controlled blood sugar after surgery to increase their chances of a speedy recovery. Blood sugar is measured at 6:00 a.m. on the first two days after surgery because this is the best time to determine how the body systems responded to surgery.

Why is this important?

Controlling blood sugar helps wounds to heal faster and reduces the likelihood of infection.


Appropriate surgical site hair removal

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Preparation for surgery includes the appropriate method of surgical site hair removal. No hair removal, or hair removal with clippers or depilatory is considered appropriate. Shaving with a razor is considered inappropriate.

Why is this Important?

Shaving can cause multiple skin abrasions that later may become infected. Studies have shown that use of clippers resulted in reduced surgical infections and healthcare expenditures.

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