Surgical Site Infection (SSI)

What is a surgical site infection?

A surgical site infection (SSI) is an infection that occurs after surgery. SSIs can occur at any time, from immediately after surgery up to one year later. Most SSIs occur within the first 30 days after surgery. 

The main types of bacteria that cause SSIs are:

  • Staphylococcus aureus (including methicillin-resistant S. aureus, or MRSA)
  • Coagulase-negative species, such as:
    • Staphylococci
    • Enterococci
    • Pseudomonas 

SSIs can lead to serious complications, including sepsis and death. The best way to prevent SSIs is for patients to practice good hygiene before and after surgery.

Why are surgical site infections important in healthcare?

Surgical site infections can occur when bacteria enter the body through an incision during surgery. While most SSIs are minor and can be treated with antibiotics, some can lead to more serious complications, such as blood poisoning or organ damage. 

Here are three reasons why it’s essential to understand surgical site infections and to take the steps necessary to reduce the risk of developing an SSI in the first place. 

  1. To prevent the spread of infection. SSIs can sometimes lead to serious complications, such as blood poisoning or organ damage. By taking care of an infection early on, you can help to prevent it from spreading and becoming more serious.
  2. To reduce the risk of re-infection. Once you've had an SSI, you're at an increased risk of developing another one in the future. Taking care of your surgical site and preventing infection can help to reduce this risk.
  3. To improve healing time. Healing from an infection can take longer than healing from surgery alone. Caring for your surgical site and preventing infection will help you heal more quickly and reduce your recovery time.