Surgical complications impact many patients every year, and when post-operative complications occur, they can disrupt the normal healing cycle and introduce new challenges in patient care. It is estimated that between 3% and 27% of surgical patients have unforeseen complications related to their surgical event.1
Various post-operative complications can arise, and some of the more common complications include:
Other potential complications that can arise post-operatively include reactions to anesthesia, pulmonary complications and difficulty breathing, and temporary problems with urine retention.5
Although not all post-operative complications can be prevented, some can be avoided through vigilant care immediately after surgery and throughout the healing period. Many complications can be avoided through basic care strategies, such as the following6:
Health care providers can also employ certain tools when treating the wound itself in the post-operative period to prevent some of the most significant complications, such as infection.
In addition to these clinical modes of preventing post-surgical complications, patient education remains vital in reducing the occurrence and severity of complications during the healing period after hospital discharge. This education should also be provided to those who may assist with caring for the patient at home. Assessing and identifying risk factors for complications are crucial in early interventions that can lead to better outcomes and faster healing of surgical wounds.12
1. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Surgical Complication Prevention Guide. Rockville, MD: AHQR; 2017.
2. Haque M, Sartelli M, McKimm J, Baker MA. Health care-associated infections – an overview. Infect Drug Resist. 2018;11:2321-2333.
3. Edeer AD, Comez S, Damar HT, Savci A. Prevalence and risk factors of venous thromboembolism in postoperative patients: a retrospective study. Pak J Med Sci. 2018;34(6):1539-1544.
4. Rosen RD, Manna B. Wound dehiscence. StatPearls. 2019. https://www.statpearls.com/kb/viewarticle/31401. Accessed September 15, 2020.
5. John Hopkins Medicine. After surgery: discomforts and complications. 2020. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/af…. Accessed September 15, 2020.
6. Nursing CE. Postoperative complications [course material]. 2019. https://www.nursingce.com/ceu-courses/postoperative-complications. Accessed September 15, 2020.
7. Tartari E, Weterings V, Gastmeier P, et al. Patient engagement with surgical site infection prevention: an expert panel perspective. Antimicrob Resist Infect Control. 2017;6:45.
8. Gaines S, Luo JN, Gilbert J, Zaborina O, Alverdy JC. Optimum operating room environment for the prevention of surgical site infections. Surg Infect. 2017;18(4):503-507.
9. Gaspard F, Brassard P, Alam T, et al. Impact of an antimicrobial dressing in reducing surgical site infections in cardiac surgery patients. Wounds. 2013;25(7):178-185.
10. Suzuki K, ed. A guide to using cellular and tissue-based products. Podiatry Today. 2018;31(3):26-30.
11. Norman G, Goh EL, Dumville JC, et al. Negative pressure wound therapy for surgical wounds healing by primary closure. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2020;6(6):CD009261.
12. Anderson DJ, Podgorny K, Berrios-Torres SI, et al. Strategies to prevent surgical site infections in acute care hospitals: 2014 update. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2014;35(6):605-627.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author, and do not represent the views of WoundSource, HMP Global, its affiliates, or subsidiary companies.