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Surgical Site Infections, Ambulatory Care

A surgical site infection

is caused by bacteria and often develops within 10 days after surgery. The infection may be shallow or deep and can affect your organs.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • Red, swollen, and painful wound
  • Red streaks coming from your wound
  • Fever
  • Blood, fluid, or pus draining from your wound
  • A bad odor coming from your wound

Seek immediate care for the following symptoms:

  • Sudden trouble breathing
  • The joint near your wound will not move
  • Blood that soaks through your bandage
  • Severe pain

Treatment for a surgical site infection

may include the following:

  • Medicines can help fight the infection and decrease pain or swelling.
  • Incision and drainage may be needed to clean out your wound. If you have stitches, they may need to be removed.
  • Debridement may be needed to cut or remove any objects, dead tissues, or damaged areas in or around the wound.
  • Bandages may be used to protect the wound and help it heal. They may contain medicines to help your wound heal. Ask for more information about bandages.
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy may be used to get more oxygen to your tissues to help them heal. The pressurized oxygen is given as you sit in a pressure chamber.
  • Vacuum-assisted closure is a medical foam dressing attached to a suction machine. The machine gently cleans your wound and increases blood flow to your wound.

Do not smoke:

If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Smoking slows wound healing. Ask for information if you need help quitting.

Help your wound heal:

  • Care for your wound as directed. Keep your wound clean and dry. You may need to cover your wound when you bathe so it does not get wet. When you are allowed to clean your wound, carefully wash it with soap and water, or as directed. Dry the area and put on new, clean bandages as directed. Change your bandages when they get wet or dirty.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Healthy foods may help you heal faster. You may also need to take vitamins and minerals. Ask if you need to be on a special diet.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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