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Surgery and Infection Overview
A nosocomial infection, also referred to as a healthcare-related illness or infection (HCRI), is the result of exposure to a pathogen while in the healthcare setting. Although there are many different types of infections that will affect various areas of the body, vascular infections in surgery rooms has drawn significant attention in recent years.
As with other types of HCRI’s, treatment of a vascular infection can become quite expensive and can lead to severe complications, even death. This is why there has been such an increase in the number of measures taken by health care agencies to reduce and eliminate infection in the operating room. There are several different approaches, however, that may be taken not only during surgery, but before and after, to prevent the incidence of vascular infection as a result of surgery.
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Antibiotic Prophylaxis Prior to Procedures
One intervention aimed at reducing vascular infection during operation is antibiotics. You may be prescribed a course of antibiotics for a pre-determined time period before the cardiac procedure is to be performed. In addition, you may also be instructed to continue this regimen following the surgery.
This method may be primarily utilized in procedures that introduce a device, such as a pacemaker for example, into the heart. The goal is to eliminate colonization of harmful bacteria onto the device, which can result in severe infection. The usefulness of antibiotic prophylaxis prior to cardiac surgery is still being debated, as all surgical patients may not be good candidates and due to the increase in antibiotic resistant bacterial infections.
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Technological and Traditional Prevention Methods
Asepsis and sterilization of equipment is necessary to prevent vascular infection when in surgery. This means that the items used during the procedure are free from any germs or bacteria. Equipment used is either disposable or cleaned in an autoclave prior to use. In addition to this, surgery is conducted in a sterile fashion. A sterile field is set up and anything considered “unclean” is not permitted into the area. These are all more traditional methods that have been used during operation for years; however, technological advancements may also affect infection prevention. Many of these advancements allow for less invasive surgeries, which can significantly reduce the risk of infection. The patient should keep in mind though, break in aseptic technique or sterilization can still result in vascular infection.
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Additional Contributing Factors
Vascular infection in surgery rooms do not only affect cardiac patients, but can occur during any type of surgery. Factors such as overall health, oxygen saturation and maintenance of body temperature can either enhance the breeding grounds for infection or reduce them. Proper surgical preparation, thorough hand washing and following physician orders can also help decrease the incidence of nosocomial infection for all individuals. Although this phenomenon is becoming less common, vascular infection following surgery is one of the leading kinds of health care associated illnesses.
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Improvement Report: Improving Infection Prevention in Adult Surgical Patients. Institute of Healthcare Improvement. Viewed 28, November 2010. http://www.ihi.org/IHI/Topics/PatientSafety/SurgicalSiteInfections/ImprovementStories/SurgicalInfectionPreventionSJRMC.htm
The Society of Thoracic Surgeons Practice Guide. Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research. Updated 2008. Viewed 28, November 2010. http://www.guideline.gov/content.aspx?id=10411