More than 8,000 people a year die from surgical site infections (SSIs) picked up in hospitals [source: Klevens, et al]. Fortunately, the risk of such a deadly illness doesn't usually impact ER visitors unless they require an emergency procedure such as a tracheotomy or having a chest tube inserted -- or perhaps a trip to the operating room. But because such measures are necessary at times, an SSI is something to be wary of if you or a loved one are admitted into an ER.
SSIs can crop up after a surgery in the area of the body where the procedure took place. Sometimes only the skin is affected, but in more dangerous cases, tissues, organs and implanted medical devices can become infected.
If you develop an SSI, early symptoms can include fever, redness and pain at the surgery site, and drainage of cloudy fluid from the wound where the surgical incision was made. If you notice any of these signs after your surgery, you should let your doctor know right away so that he or she can administer antibiotics.
You might be surprised by the next kind of health care-associated infection. See the next page to learn more.