From the Journals

Updated SSI prevention guidance highlights glucose control, MRSA



The guidelines for controlling surgical site infections have been updated to reflect evidence-based findings of a collaboration between surgeons and infection control experts from the American College of Surgeons, the ACS National Surgical Quality Improvement Program, and the Surgical Infection Society.

Updated strategies to reduce the risk of surgical site infections (SSIs) include perioperative glucose control in all patients and the use of oral antibiotics as an element of colon procedures, according to guidelines published in Journal of the American College of Surgeons (J Am Coll Surg. 2017;224:59-74).

Surgical site infections now account for 20% of all hospital-acquired infections, wrote lead author Kristen A. Ban, MD, a surgical resident at Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood, Ill., and her colleagues.

The most recent guidelines for preventing surgical site infections came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1999; “the CDC has been working on an update since 2011, but this has been incredibly slow,” E. Patchen Dellinger, MD, of the University of Washington, Seattle, one of the guidelines’ authors, said in an interview. “A publication should be coming out sometime this year, but in the meantime, it was useful to have something for clinicians to refer to,” he said.

Dr. E. Patchen Dellinger
Dr. E. Patchen Dellinger

The researchers used PubMed to review specific topics in the SSI literature and address knowledge gaps.

Based on their findings, the new guidelines add recommendations to previous versions that address SSI prevention in the prehospital setting, at the hospital, and after discharge. The level of evidence to support each guideline varies; the researchers strongly recommend certain points, such as perioperative glucose control for all patients, not only those with diabetes; other recommendations such as postoperative showering 12 hours after surgery vs. delayed showering are left to the surgeon’s discretion.

“The changes/new recommendations since the 1999 guideline include the recommendation for the use of oral antibiotics with mechanical bowel prep for colon operations (in combination with intravenous prophylactic antibiotics), the control of perioperative glucose levels in ALL patients (not just diabetics), the maintenance of normothermia in the OR, the use of wound protectors for clean-contaminated cases, the use of antimicrobial sutures, and the use of increased FiO2 levels for intubated patients,” Dr. Dellinger said. These new elements also will be recommended when the updated CDC guidelines are released, and already have been recommended in recent guidelines from the World Health Organization, he added.

Guidelines for prehospital interventions include smoking cessation 4-6 weeks before surgery, preoperative bathing with chlorhexidine, glucose control for diabetes patients, MRSA screening, and bowel preparation (combining mechanical and antibiotic) for all elective colectomies.

Recommended hospital interventions include the following:

• Intraoperative normothermia.

• Use of wound protectors in open abdominal surgery.

• Use of triclosan antibiotic sutures.

• Supplemental oxygen.

• Antibiotic prophylaxis when indicated.

• Glucose control for all patients perioperatively.

• Hair removal only when necessary, avoiding a razor if possible.

• Alcohol-based skin preparation when possible.

• Surgical hand scrub.

• Facility scrub laundering and use of a skull cap if minimal hair is exposed.

• Use of double gloves and changing gloves before incision closure in colorectal cases.

• Use of new instruments for closure in colorectal cases.

• Purse string closure of stoma sites.

• Use of topical antibiotics as part of wound care.

• Using wound vacuum therapy over stapled skin.

Data on interventions after hospital discharge that may reduce SSI incidence are limited, the researchers said. No specific wound care protocols or surveillance methods have been identified. However, “promising new methods of surveillance are being explored, many of which use smartphone technology to help patients send their surgeon daily photos or updates,” they noted.

“Strategies to decrease SSI are multimodal and occur across a range of settings under the supervision of numerous providers,” the researchers wrote. “Ensuring high compliance with these risk-reduction strategies is crucial to the success of SSI reduction efforts,” they added.

However, changes to surgical practice don’t happen overnight, Dr. Dellinger said. “If all of these are actually adapted it should decrease SSI rates in all areas,” he noted. “Oral antibiotics for colorectal cases and glucose control for all patients will probably make the biggest benefit if actually adopted,” he said.

“We could use some better studies on the precise timing of parenteral prophylactic antibiotics,” said Dr. Dellinger. “One such study has been submitted from Switzerland and should be published sometime this year. Hard evidence on the best timing is missing although observational data allows some of us to come to conclusions on that,” he said. “Additional studies on perioperative oxygenation where fluid management and temperature management are better controlled would be helpful, and more and better studies are need for antimicrobial sutures,” he added.

The authors had nothing to disclose relevant to the scope of the guidelines. Outside the scope of this work, Dr. Dellinger disclosed serving on the advisory boards for 3M, Melinta, and Theravance, as well as receiving a grant from Motif for a clinical trial of iclaprim vs. vancomycin for the treatment of skin and soft tissue infections.

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