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Archive June 2019 XX, No. 6

Ideas That Work: Infection Control

When Can Wound Coverings Come Off?

STICK TO IT Noting when it's safe to remove surgical dressings protects incision sites until they begin to heal.

It takes about 24 hours for enough epithelial cells to proliferate across surgical wounds to protect the area from infection. You can tell patients to keep wounds fully covered for a full day after they leave your facility and include a reminder in discharge directions, but they’re often tempted to peel back bandages for a quick peek or, worse, remove them to shower. That’s why our hospital’s SSI prevention bundle includes “do not remove until” stickers, which online office supply retailers can make for you. PACU nurses note the next day’s date on the stickers before placing them on surgical wound dressings. The stickers serve as on-the-spot reminders for tempted patients to keep dressings in place until wounds begin to close.

Kimberly Davis, MD, MBA, FACS, FCCM
Yale School of Medicine
New Haven, Conn.

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