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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.

A person in a wheelchair holding hands with another person and a healthcare provider standing behind, all smiling

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)

Doctor holding x-ray with patient who has a knee injury

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

  • Fever
  • 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.

Wally and show logo stand against a blue curtained background

Handy hygiene tips

We all have a part to play when it comes to preventing the spread of germs, including those that cause HAIs. Practicing good hygiene is one of the best ways to protect ourselves and others.

Learn more by watching the show, Handy Hygiene Tips, hosted by Wally VandeHand.

Watch Handy Hygiene Tips.

Patient, resident, and family resources

Questions about HAIs? Contact us!
Phone: 608-267-7711 | Fax: 608-266-0049

Last revised February 21, 2024