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Skin is a natural barrier against infection. Even with many precautions and protocols to prevent infection in place, any surgery that causes a break in the skin can lead to an infection (Johns Hopkins Medicine, n.d.). When patients get an infection following surgery or procedure, it delays healing, extends the patient's length of stay and increases their risk for harm and readmission. By implementing the appropriate interventions, patients are safer and go home sooner (Institute for Healthcare Improvement, n.d.).

Most patients who have surgery do well, but about three out of every 100 surgery patients get an infection. This can lead to other problems such as a longer hospital stay and rarely, an infection-related death (IHI, 2012).

Patients and carers should be given information and advice on how to care for their wound after discharge, how to recognize a surgical site infection, and who to contact if they are concerned (NICE, 2019).

Patient Stories

Ginny's life was changed forever by a preventable hospital-acquired infection.

A surgical patient who contracted MRSA following knee replacement surgery describes the effects of the surgical site infection (SSI) on her life, and how her experience led her health care providers to make changes to prevent SSIs.