New WHO guidelines aim to prevent the surgical site infections that kill millions of people annually and curb the spread of superbugs.
To counter the infections that 11% of patients in low- and middle-income countries pick up during surgery, the WHO’s "Global Guidelines for the Prevention of Surgical Site Infection” suggest 29 measures, including:
- Ensure that patients bathe—but do not shave—before surgery
- Best practices for handwashing for surgical teams
- Use antibiotics only to prevent infections before and during surgery only
- Follow guidance on which disinfectants to use before incision, and which sutures to use
The advice extends to the patients, too: patients preparing for surgery should ask their surgeon whether they are following WHO’s advice.