Global guidelines on the prevention of surgical site infection – WHO

Health care-associated infections (HAI) are acquired by patients while receiving care and represent the most frequent adverse event affecting patient safety worldwide.
Recent work by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that surgical site infection (SSI) is the most surveyed and frequent type of HAI in low- and middle-income countries and affects up to one third of patients who have undergone a surgical procedure. Although SSI incidence is lower in high-income countries, it remains the second most frequent type of HAI in Europe and the United States of America (USA).

Many factors in the patient’s journey through surgery have been identified as contributing to the risk of SSI. Therefore, the prevention of these infections is complex and requires the integration of a range of preventive measures before, during and after surgery. However, the implementation of these measures is not standardized worldwide.
No international guidelines are currently available and inconsistency in the interpretation of evidence and recommendations among national guidelines is frequently identified.
The aim of these guidelines is to provide a comprehensive range of evidence-based recommendations for interventions to be applied during the pre-, intra- and postoperative periods for the prevention of SSI, while also considering aspects related to resource availability and values and preferences.
Although the guidelines are intended for surgical patients of all ages, some recommendations do not apply to the paediatric population due to lack of evidence or inapplicability and this is clearly stated.

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