Appropriate and timely antibiotic dosing is one way to prevent surgical site infections. Additional methods for preventing surgical site infections are also needed because antibiotics should not be over used. Over-use or incorrect use of antibiotics can lead to the development of drug-resistant bacteria, which pose a great threat to persons with weak immune systems.
According to an article in Emerging Infectious Diseases</A> (April, 2001; 7(2): 220-224), additional approaches that may be used to reduce the risk of surgical site infections include standard procedures such as:
- two to five minutes of pre-surgery hand and forearm washing for all surgical team members
- use of electric clippers instead of razors for necessary hair removal
- control of blood glucose before, during, and after surgery
- no tobacco use within 30 days before surgery
- patient shower with antiseptic soap on night before surgery
Two additional approaches that are being used for some surgical procedures are:
- normothermia (keeping body temperature close to normal instead of allowing it to drop during surgery)
- supplemental oxygen
Normothermia involves keeping the body temperature greater than 96.8 degrees Fahrenheit, which is warmer than usual for surgery. Keeping the body temperature normal (normothermia) has been shown to reduce infection rates for certain procedures, but it is not appropriate for all surgical procedures. The Institute for Healthcare Improvement recommends normothermia as an option for reducing surgical site infections.
According to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) (October 26, 2005; 294(16): 2035-2042), supplemental oxygen before, during, and after surgery reduces surgical site infections for patients undergoing colon or rectal surgery. Supplemental oxygen, like normothermia, may not be appropriate for all surgical patients.