Making Surgery Safer

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.

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