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Having Surgery?

Sometimes, patients who have surgery can get infections in their wound. This can seriously affect recovery. Below is a checklist to help you prevent an infection after surgery. Following these steps can help you have a smoother recovery.

Before your surgery

  • When you talk with your provider:
    • Discuss your medications. Tell your provider about the medications you take.
    • Discuss medication allergies. Tell your provider what happens when you take medications you are allergic to.
    • Set up a follow-up visit with your provider for after your surgery.
    • Discuss other health problems with your provider. Sometimes other health problems such as diabetes or obesity can cause slower healing, which may lead to an infection.
  • Stop smoking 24 hours before your surgery, and reduce your smoking while healing. Smoking can make healing take longer and increase the chance of an infection in the wound. Talk to your provider about how you can cut back or quit.
  • Before the surgery, follow your provider’s instructions very carefully.
  • Bathe or shower the night before or the morning of your surgery. Remove all makeup and nail polish. Be sure to use special soap if your provider asks you to.
  • Do not shave near the area where the surgery will be, unless your provider tells you to. Shaving can irritate and cause small breaks in the skin. This makes it easier to get an infection.
  • The day of your surgery, keep warm. Being warm enough reduces the chance of an infection.

After your surgery

  • Tell the medical staff if you are feeling cold. Ask for warm blankets.
  • Follow your provider’s instructions carefully.
  • Make sure you understand how to care for your wound before you leave the hospital. Know when to remove the bandage. Have your provider show you how to care for your wound (If you have a smartphone, take a video of how they do it).
  • Always clean your hands before and after caring for your wound.
  • Know who to contact if you have questions or problems after you get home.
  • Family and friends who visit you should not touch the wound or bandages.
  • If you have any symptoms of an infection, such as redness and pain at the wound site, drainage, or fever, call your provider immediately.
  • Go to your follow-up appointment with your provider. Bring all of your instructions and a list of your medications with you to this visit. If you need help setting up an appointment, we can help. Call 1.800.859.9889, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Download and print a PDF version of this checklist

Surgery Checklist

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