Patient surgical preparation technique: Preventing surgical site infections

surgical site infectionsThis article is sponsored content brought to you by Jurox.

Surgical site infections can occur in any type of surgery. The risks of surgical site infections include: disfigurement due to tissue destruction, additional costs to the clinic and client due to increased medication requirements, prolonged wound management, increased risk of drug side effects, and even patient death.

While complete elimination of infection is difficult, we can significantly reduce its occurrence and impact through presurgical preparation, proper surgical monitoring and postoperative care. 

When scrubbing the patient prior to procedure, different scrub actives can require different techniques in order to achieve the most economical and effective infection prevention. 

Prior to preoperative skin asepsis

When preparing the patient for a surgical scrub, any grossly contaminated animals should be washed and dried, preferably the day prior to surgery. Bathing an animal on the day of surgery may predispose them to hypothermia, as the cooling effect of wet fur can be compounded with the effects anaesthesia may have on thermoregulation. 

When removing the fur, allow sufficient area for unplanned extension of the surgical field. 

Preoperative patient skin scrub

Scrub the surgical field using lint-free gauze swabs with undiluted Chlorhex-S, or Iovone® Scrub. Start at the incision site and work outwards with a gentle backwards/forwards or circular motion. Repeat procedure with a clean, impregnated swab each time the periphery is reached. Continue until dirt is no longer visible on used swabs. 

The contact time between the scrub solution and the skin is the most important aspect of scrubbing a patient. Scrub solutions need varying lengths of contact time in order to exert their full antimicrobial effect, depending on which active ingredient is being used. As a general rule, a scrub solution should be left on the skin for 1-2 minutes before being removed with alcohol. 

The use of alcohol-only solutions may reduce residual activity of antiseptics. To ensure maximum effectiveness at the end of a scrub, it is recommended to finish a scrub with freshly diluted Chlorhex-C®, or undiluted Iovone® solution. Note that mixing an iodine solution with a chlorhexidine solution may result in an ineffective scrub, as each active ingredient has a different effective pH. 

surgical site infectionsPostoperative care

Special care should be taken to not leave residues on the skin or fur of the patient. During the patient scrub, minimal liquid should come in contact with the fur. This will not only help to reduce the hypothermic effects of wet fur, but also ensure that less of the patient needs to be cleaned postoperatively. Similar to bathing and grooming, residues of soaps, conditioners, and surgical preparations on the skin may cause tissue irritation. Licking of the residues off of the skin may lead to frothing due to bad taste or may increase the potential for mouth ulcers. Postoperatively, a patient should be wiped clean of any blood that may have leaked from the incision site, as well as cleaned of any residues that may be left on the skin after scrubbing.  

Find out more about Jurox’s antiseptic range at www.jurox.com.au, or contact your Jurox Territory manager to place your order. ®Registered Trademark of Jurox Pty Limited

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