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  • New Guidelines Published to Prevent Infections from Surgery


    Will Guide Medication Use to Prevent Dangerous Surgical Site Infections and Avoid Antibiotic Resistance

    Four professional organizations representing physicians and pharmacists have collaborated to publish new clinical practice guidelines to help prevent infections from surgery. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), the Surgical Infection Society (SIS), and the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) worked together to develop guidelines, which were published in the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy on February 1, and will be published concurrently in Surgical Infections.

    Surgical site infections represent a substantial challenge for hospitals and patients, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The agency estimates that more than two surgical site infections occur for every 100 procedures and are responsible for nearly 10 percent of deaths caused by hospital-acquired infections in the U.S., adding $10,000 to $25,000 to the cost of care per patient affected.

    These new guidelines reflect major updates to current clinical practice and were developed to help clinicians determine the best antimicrobial usage to help prevent infections in patients undergoing surgery.  The guidelines were developed through an interprofessional panel using an evidence-based approach and included consideration for the validity, reliability, and clinical applicability of current literature. The guidelines replace ASHP’s previous therapeutic guidelines on this topic, which were first published in 1992 and revised in 1999, as well as guidelines published previously by SIS and IDSA.

    New sections added to the guidelines address:

    • Preoperative screening and decolonization of microbes, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
    • Optimal time for administration of pre- and intra-operative doses (for lengthy procedures).  
    • Weight-based dosing for obese patients.
    • Common principles of antimicrobial prophylaxis for all types of surgical procedures.
    • Guidance specifically for surgery involving the small intestine, colon, rectum, cardiovascular system, and breast; as well as hernia repair and plastic surgery. 

    The guidelines are published in the February 1, 2013, edition the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, and will also be published in the February edition of Surgical Infections.  The document is available free online because of its potential to improve public health.

    A pocket guide representing key recommendations and dosing guides is available online and in print from International Guidelines Central.


  • The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) is an organization of physicians, scientists, and other health care professionals dedicated to promoting health through excellence in infectious diseases research, education, prevention, and patient care. The Society, which has nearly 10,000 members, was founded in 1963 and is based in Arlington, VA. For more information, see

  • The Surgical Infection Society (SIS) was organized in 1980 and is an organization of physicians, scientists and other health care professionals. The mission of the Surgical Infection Society is to educate health care providers and the public about infection in surgical patients and promote research in the understanding, prevention and management of surgical infections. SIS organizes an annual meeting for the purpose of presenting accepted and award winning research abstracts, papers, and posters. The meeting is centered around the scientific sessions, which function as a forum for exchange of information and ideas and for networking with surgeons at all levels. In addition to member research, SIS publishes position papers and guidelines relating to the treatment of surgical infection in an effort to communicate and educate the greater medical science and clinical community. For more information, see

  • Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America is a professional society representing more than 2,000 physicians and other healthcare professionals around the world with expertise in healthcare epidemiology and infection prevention and control. SHEA’s mission is to prevent and control healthcare-associated infections and advance the field of healthcare epidemiology. The society leads this field by promoting science and research and providing high-quality education and training in epidemiologic methods and prevention strategies. SHEA upholds the value and critical contributions of healthcare epidemiology to improving patient care and healthcare worker safety in all healthcare settings. Visit SHEA online at
  • ASHP is the national professional organization whose 40,000 members include pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and pharmacy students who provide patient care services in hospitals, health systems, and ambulatory clinics. For 70 years, the Society has been on the forefront of efforts to improve medication use and enhance patient safety. For more information about the wide array of ASHP activities and the many ways in which pharmacists help people make the best use of medicines, visit ASHP's website,, or its consumer website,

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