Healthcare-Associated Infections: Information for Patients and Families
This page contains information and resources related to healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) for patients, residents of long-term care facilities, their families, and the general public.
How can I prevent getting an HAI?
There are certain steps you can take to prevent HAIs if you are a patient, or if you are providing care to a patient.
Some general prevention measures include:
- Wash your hands often, and make sure your family members and friends do as well.
- If you do not see your health care provider clean their hands before providing care, speak up and ask them to do so.
- Ask your health care provider what specific steps you can take to prevent infection before, during, and after your visit.
- Incorporate physical activity and a healthy diet into your daily life.
- Do not smoke.
- Stay up to date with vaccinations.
Surgical site infection (SSI)
SSIs are one of the most common types of healthcare-associated infection. SSIs are infections that occur after surgery in the part of the body where the surgery took place. They usually happen within 30 days after surgery. Some SSIs occur only on the skin, while others can be more serious, and can occur in tissues under the skin, organs, or implanted materials. Many SSIs can be treated with antibiotics.
Common symptoms of SSIs:
- Delayed healing of the wound
- Redness, pain, tenderness, warmth, or swelling around the area where you had surgery
- Discharge of pus or cloudy fluid from your surgical wound
SSI: do's and don'ts
- Tell your doctor about any other medical problems you have before surgery.
- Ask your doctor, family, and friends to clean their hands. Always make sure you clean your hands before and after caring for your wound.
- Contact your doctor if you have any symptoms of an infection after your surgery.
- Don't smoke. Patients who smoke get more infections. Ask your doctor about how you can quit before surgery.
- Don't shave before surgery. If someone tries to shave you with a razor before surgery, speak up.
- Don't let family and friends who visit you touch the surgical wound or dressings.
Patient, resident, and family resources
- Infection Prevention and You: Infection prevention information for patients and families from the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology
- Wash Your Hands!, P-01710 (multiple languages): A fact sheet on proper handwashing techniques
- What Can I do to Prevent an Infection After Surgery, P-01228 (PDF): Information for patients on useful steps to take before and after surgery to prevent SSIs
- Surgical Site Infections: Information and resources from CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) on preventing SSIs
- CDC's Antibiotic Resistance Patient Safety Atlas: An interactive dataset with information about antibiotic resistance, use, and stewardship in every state
- For information and data on HAIs in specific health care facilities, visit the Wisconsin Hospital Association CheckPoint® and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Care Compare websites.
Questions about HAIs? Contact us!
Phone: 608-267-7711 | Fax: 608-266-0049