To fight surgical superbugs, WHO recommends new guidelines

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.

“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 Thursday as the new recommendations were published.

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.

Invaluable tool to protect patients

“Preventing surgical infections … requires a range of preventive measures. These guidelines are an invaluable tool for protecting patients,” Kieny said.

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 US.

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