What is a surgical site infection?


A Surgical Site Infection (SSI) is an infection that occurs postoperatively. Even though most patients do quite well after surgery, approximately
2 out of 100 patients will develop a post-operative infection. (1) These infections result in longer hospitalization and higher costs.


How can I help reduce my risk of acquiring a surgical site infection?


Your overall health is important when you are having surgery; many times you don’t have time to prepare for the event, but if you do have time there are some actions that you can take to help you decrease the risk of developing a surgical site infection. This list is not all inclusive.


  • Avoid shaving near the proposed operative areas; shaving can irritate the skin.
  • Make sure you are eating nutritiously.
  • Control your blood sugar; research has shown better outcomes with better controlled blood sugars.
  • Shower with antiseptic soap.
  • Stop tobacco use prior to surgery.
  • If possible, lose those extra pounds.
  • Tell your surgeon if you have any other infections.
  • Take antibiotics as prescribed prior to surgery.


The most important factors in decreasing your risk for a surgical site infection are the sound judgment and proper technique of your surgeon, the surgical team and your general health.




(1) Nichols R L. Preventing surgical site infections:a surgeon’s perspective. Emerging Infectious Diseases. Vol. 7, No. 2, March–April 2001.


For a more detailed list of what you can do to assist in preventing a surgical site infection, visit the following websites:

Related Links:


The Safe Care Campaign

The Safe Care Campaign's goal is to instigate a crucial, culture change within the American healthcare environment in regard to comprehensive infection prevention and hand hygiene.


Institute of Healthcare Improvement


Click here for the Institute of Healthcare Improvement document

"Getting Started Kit: Prevent Surgical Site Infections How-to Guide (see page 24 & 25)"


Skin is the Source


The skin is the source website is dedicated to reducing healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) by educating patients that skin is often the source of HAIs.

Other Resources: