Surgical Care: Percent of surgical care patients who received all recommended treatments based on their clinical condition:
*source: US Departments of Health and Human Services (http://www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov/About/HOSInfo/Timely-Effective-Care.aspx)
Surgical wound infections can be prevented. Medical research shows that surgery patients who get antibiotics within the hour before their surgery are less likely to get wound infections. Getting an antibiotic earlier, or after surgery begins, is not as effective. Hospital staff should make sure surgery patients get antibiotics at the right time.
Antibiotics are often given to patients before surgery to prevent infection. Taking these antibiotics for more than 24 hours after routine surgery is usually not necessary. Continuing the medication longer than necessary can increase the risk of side effects such as stomach aches and serious types of diarrhea. Also, when antibiotics are used for too long, patients can develop resistance to them and the antibiotics won't work as well.
Many factors influence a surgery patient's risk of developing a blood clot, including the type of surgery. When patients stay still for a long time after some types of surgery, they are more likely to develop a blood clot in the veins of the legs, thighs, or pelvis. A blood clot slows down the flow of blood, causing swelling, redness, and pain. A blood clot can also break off and travel to other parts of the body. If the blood clot gets into the lung, it is a serious problem that can sometimes cause death. Treatments to help prevent blood clots from forming after surgery include blood-thinning medications, elastic support stockings, or mechanical air stockings that help with blood flow in the legs. These treatments need to be started at the right time, which is typically during the period that begins 24 hours before surgery and ends 24 hours after surgery.
It is often standard procedure to stop patients' usual medications for a while before and after their surgery. But if patients who have been taking beta blockers suddenly stop taking them, they can have heart problems such as a fast heartbeat. For these patients, staying on beta blockers before and after surgery makes it less likely that they will have heart problems.
Surgical wound infections can be prevented. Medical research has shown that certain antibiotics work better to prevent wound infections for certain types of surgery. Hospital staff should make sure patients get the antibiotic that works best for their type of surgery.
Even if heart surgery patients do not have diabetes, keeping their blood sugar under good control after surgery lowers the risk of infection and other problems. "Under good control" means their blood sugar should be 200 mg/dL or less when checked first thing in the morning.
Preparing a patient for surgery may include removing body hair from skin in the area where the surgery will be done. Medical research has shown that shaving with a razor can increase the risk of infection. It is safer to use electric clippers or hair removal cream.
Sometimes surgical patients need to have a urinary catheter, or thin tube, inserted into their bladder to help drain the urine. Catheters are usually attached to a bag that collects the urine. Surgery patients can develop infections when urinary catheters are left in place too long after surgery. Infections are dangerous for patients, cause longer hospital stays, and increase costs.
Hospitals can prevent surgical wound infections and other complications by keeping the patient’s body temperature near normal during surgery. Medical research has shown that patients whose body temperatures drop during surgery have a greater risk of infection and their wounds may not heal as quickly. Hospital staff should make sure that patients are actively warmed during and immediately after surgery to prevent drops in body temperature.
Certain surgeries increase the risk that the patient will develop a blood clot (venous thromboembolism). When patients stay still for a long time after some types of surgery, they are more likely to develop a blood clot in the veins of the legs, thighs, or pelvis. A blood clot slows down the flow of blood, causing swelling, redness, and pain. A blood clot can also break off and travel to other parts of the body. If the blood clot gets into the lung, it is a serious problem that can cause death. To help prevent blood clots from forming after surgery, doctors can order treatments to be used just before or after the surgery. These include blood-thinning medications, elastic support stockings, or mechanical air stockings that help with blood flow in the legs.