When it comes to getting an infection at a hospital, the risk is more the thing of Old Wives Tales and Urban Legend.
It is possible, but not very likely. Every hospital is required to have an infection control department.
Dee Pederson is the "department" for Payson Regional Medical Center and she said the local facility's record regarding infections is better than the national standard. The standard makes it acceptable to have an infection rate of 2 percent. Pederson said PRMC's is below that.
Pederson talked about infection control to a group at the PRMC Senior Circle last week as part of the Dessert with the Director program.
The primary focus of her work is surgical site infections (infections of the wounds that result from surgery). She said PRMC has a very active program to watch patients carefully for the advent of wound infections.
There are different classifications for surgical site wounds:
- A clean site is one away from/outside the abdominal cavity.
- A clean, contaminated site has a greater risk of becoming infected, because it is in the area of the abdominal cavity.
- A contaminated site is one where surgery is performed in the abdomen, the urinary or reproductive tract.
- A dirty site is one in the bowel area or the wound is something like a bone fracture that has broken through the skin and did not have immediate attention.
Common organisms found on the skin cause most infections. We all carry different staph organisms and strep germs, Pederson said.
A variety of risk factors can contribute to the likelihood of developing an infection at the site of a surgical wound. These include such things as age, an existing infection or compromised immune system, Pederson said.
If one or more of these things exist prior to an operation, if it is elective, surgery would be postponed until the patient's condition can be improved or eliminated. However, in an emergency situation, waiting is not an option.