advises proper washing, no shaving in fight against hospital
Send a link to a friend
[November 03, 2016]
By Kate Kelland
LONDON (Reuters) - Patients going for
surgery should bathe or shower beforehand but their surgical site should
not be shaved, and antibiotics should be used to prevent infections
before and during surgery, but not afterwards, the World Health
Organization said on Thursday.
In new guidelines aimed at halting the spread of potentially deadly
superbug infections in hospitals and clinics worldwide, the WHO said
obsessive dedication to cleanliness and hygiene was crucial, as was
the careful use of anti-infectives.
Surgical site infections are caused by bacteria getting in to the
body through incisions made during surgery. They put millions of
patients worldwide at risk each year and exacerbate the spread of
antibiotic resistant superbugs such as MRSA.
"No one should get sick while seeking or receiving care," Marie-Paule
Kieny, the WHO's assistant director-general for health systems and
innovation, said in a statement as the new recommendations were
The guidelines range from simple precautions such as ensuring
patients take a bath or shower before surgery and ensuring surgical
teams use the best possible methods in cleaning their hands, to
advice on when to give antibiotics to prevent infections, what
disinfectants are best before incision, and which sutures doctors
Importantly, the guidelines recommend patients are given antibiotics
to prevent infections before and during surgery only - a measure the
WHO described as crucial to slowing the spread of antibiotic
resistance. In a change to current common practice, the guidelines
said antibiotics should not be used after surgery unless the patient
has contracted an infection.
"Preventing surgical infections ... requires a range of preventive
measures. These guidelines are an invaluable tool for protecting
patients," Kieny said.
According to WHO figures, some 11 percent of patients in poor and
middle-income countries who have surgery pick up an infection during
their operation. In Africa, up to a fifth of women who have a
caesarean section get wound infections.
[to top of second column]
But surgical site infections are not just a problem for poorer
countries. In the United States, according to the WHO, they
contribute to patients spending some 400,000 extra days in hospital
at an additional annual cost of an $900 million.
Ed Kelly, a WHO service delivery and safety expert, noted that some
of the recommendations would mean reversing previous practice, such
as the shaving of body hair before surgery.
The new advice not to shave is based on extensive evidence that
shaving greatly increases the risk of micro-abrasions and small cuts
in the skin, he said, which in turn raise the risk of bacteria
entering the body.
Kelly said the list of 29 recommendations, drawn up by 20
international experts, were valid for any country and suitable to
local adaptations, and take into account costs, resources and the
strength of available scientific evidence.
(Editing by Alison Williams)
[© 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2016 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.