Postoperative Infections

Postoperative Infections

Postoperative infections are an acute medical condition that can occur in a person after a surgical procedure. They can cause serious, sometimes life-threatening, complications and can significantly increase a patient’s hospital stay and associated costs. Some of the possible consequences of a postoperative infection include longer hospitalization, higher risk of complications and increased risk of death. Therefore, it is essential for healthcare professionals to assess and reduce the risk of postoperative infections for each and every patient prior to and after the surgical procedure.

The most common types of postoperative infections are surgical site infections, urinary tract infections (UTIs), pneumonia and wound infections. These infections might be caused by bacteria, fungi or viruses. It is essential that healthcare professionals make an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan for each postoperative infection, taking into account a patient’s medical history, pre-existing conditions and risk factors.

Risk Factors for Postoperative Infections

A variety of factors can increase the risk of developing a postoperative infection. Some of the most common risk factors include:

  • Poor nutrition
  • Smoking
  • HIV or ill-health
  • Diabetes
  • Malnutrition
  • A history of pre-existing infections
  • Length of surgery
  • Type of surgery
  • Use of medical devices during surgery
  • Presence of open wounds
  • Age (older patients may experience a higher risk)

Preventing Postoperative Infections

The best way to reduce the risk of postoperative infection is to take preventative measures prior to the surgery, during the surgery and after the surgery. Some of these preventive measures include:

  • Maintaining proper hand hygiene
  • Arranging pre-surgical tests and evaluations for all patients
  • Ensuring all medical instruments and surfaces are properly sterilized
  • Encouraging healthy lifestyle habits (ex. healthy eating, getting regular exercise)
  • Using proper safety techniques during surgery, such as maintaining sterile technique
  • Immediately applying antibiotic ointment or cream to all incisions after the surgery
  • Administering the appropriate antibiotic uses for prophylaxis
  • Monitoring any wounds for signs of infection

By following these preventative measures, healthcare providers can significantly reduce the risk of postoperative infections for their patients.