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Diseases & Topics

Surgical Site Infection (SSI)

A surgical site infection is an infection that occurs after surgery in the part of the body where the surgery took place. Surgical site infections can sometimes be superficial infections involving only the skin. Other surgical site infections are more serious and can involve tissues under the skin, organs, or implanted material, such as an artificial joint. Bacteria commonly associated with surgical site infections include Staphylococcus aureus and group A streptococcus (GAS).

Symptoms of SSI include redness and pain around the area where the person had surgery, drainage of cloudy fluid from the surgical wound, or fever. Most SSIs can be successfully treated, but it is better to prevent infection in the first place.

To prevent SSIs, healthcare personnel should carefully wash their hands; follow established CDC sterile procedures; wear sterile apparel such as gowns, gloves and face masks; carefully clean the surgical site; and administer appropriate pre-surgery antibiotics. Patients should wash their own hands frequently and should ensure that everyone who cares for them or visits carefully washes their hands before and after contact. They should also learn how to properly care for the surgical site themselves before going home and should promptly report to their doctor any signs of infection, such as such as redness and pain at the surgery site, drainage, or fever.

North Carolina's initial SSI reporting efforts will concentrate on abdominal hysterectomy and colon surgeries.

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