Don’t let your skin be the reason your operation is cancelled

9 June 2019

Skin damage could delay your operationWith the weather finally improving, we’re all itching to get out into our gardens and make up for lost time over what seems to have been a very long winter. With clearing, digging and planting there is always the risk of the odd small injury, but did you know that a scratch or scrape could lead to your operation being cancelled?

We are warning patients who are due to have an operation to avoid cuts, scratches and bites, as these can lead to operations being cancelled. Avoidable cancellations also contribute to increased waiting times for treatment across the NHS.

There are many reasons why these operations would have been cancelled, but one common reason is the condition of a patient’s skin – in many cases a problem which is avoidable.

One of the many functions of the skin is to act as a barrier to infection. It keeps out the sort of bacteria which can enter the bloodstream and cause problems with a new hip, a replaced knee or other implant.

This is why it is important to avoid cuts, grazes or even insect bites before your operation. Infected eczema, psoriasis, leg ulcers or other open wounds could also lead to an operation being cancelled on the day.

When you go to hospital for your pre-operation assessment, the outpatient nurse will check your skin for any problems and it is important that you declare any skin conditions which might not otherwise be noticed. If there is a problem with your skin you will be given advice and medication to deal with it before your operation.

If you damage your skin or you have a flare-up of a skin condition between your pre-operation assessment and your treatment, it is vital that you call the Outpatient Department and ask to speak to a nurse. The nurse will be able to discuss your concerns and decide if it is necessary or you to attend another assessment.

It’s better to be safe than sorry – especially at the times of year when people are out and about and more likely to be scratched or bitten. The last thing any of us want to do is to cancel your surgery on the day of the operation because there is a likelihood of infection. We’re really keen to work closed with patients to ensure their experience is a very positive and successful one.