Preventing infections

Hand hygiene is very important to prevent all kinds of infections. All patients and visitors should clean their hands when they come to the ward. All staff should clean their hands before touching a patient. Feel free to ask us if we have cleaned our hands or remind us to clean our hands!

In addition you should:

  • Have a balanced diet
  • Avoid smoking
  • Have a shower or bath with soap either the day before or on the day of your operation
  • Do not use a razor to remove hair near where your operation will be (the chest, the back or the neck depending on your procedure). Razors can cause invisible grazes on the skin which increase the risk of infection.
  • If you have diabetes,  keep blood sugar levels within the target range

We do extra things to reduce the risk of infection. These include using sterile equipment, giving one off doses of antibiotics and keeping you warm during surgery.

Your wound will have a dressing at first, the skin can be cleaned with sterile saline for 48 hours after the operation. You can shower 48 hours after surgery.

We test everyone for MRSA before surgery.

What is MRSA?
MRSA (Meticillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) is a type of bacteria which is resistant to some antibiotics; making any infections harder to treat.
Why have I been screened for MRSA?
Healthy people can carry MRSA in their nose or on their skin with no symptoms, however if the MRSA gets into a wound then the person may get an infection that requires treatment.

We screen all patients for MRSA. Screening will help us identify those patients who carry MRSA and treat them quickly. This can help reduce the risk of becoming infected and risk of spread to other patients.

What will happen if I carry MRSA?
You will be given an antiseptic body wash and a nasal cream along with instructions for use. If you are in hospital and MRSA is found, you may be moved to a side room. If an infection is present, you may need antibiotics.
Can I have Visitors?
Yes, visitors need to wear an apron and must not sit on your bed. They must also wash their hands thoroughly before and after visiting.

If friends or relatives have a health problem, they should check with their doctor and with one of the nursing staff before they visit.

What will happen when am I ready to leave hospital?
Having MRSA does not necessarily mean you will need to stay in hospital longer, if you have an infection you will need to remain until the medical staff feel you are ready for discharge.

You will need to finish the course of treatment when you are discharged home and will be informed if you need to be re-screened.

General cleanliness and hand hygiene is paramount when at home.  If you get admitted into hospital again, you will need to inform the staff you have had MRSA before.

Who can I speak to if I have further questions?
Please speak to any of the ward staff or medical staff who are caring for you. If they are unable to answer your questions or if you require further information, the Infection Control nurse can offer you additional advice, between the hours of 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday.