What is it about?

This publication discusses an important element of a surgical bundle or combination of interventions that aim to reduce the incidences of avoidable surgical site or wound infections after surgery - washing the whole body with soap and water or an antiseptic agent. It presents a case on whether all surgical patients should wash with an antiseptic agent before surgery and whether this is affordable in many healthcare settings. The publication explores various literature related to the subject. New proposals that are being presented by a newly formed global Surgical Site Infection Prevention (SSIP) group aim to get more surgical patient safety action happening on the ground. These proposals have been widely accepted globally.

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Why is it important?

Preoperative washing or bathing is an important first step in getting it right first time for surgical patients because more of the bacteria or microorganisms that cause surgical site or wound infections are from the patient's own flora. This important step must be combined with other surgical patient safety interventions to get the best outcomes of surgical patients. Patients can develop avoidable surgical site or wound infections after surgery if the recommended practices are not thoroughly followed through. It is therefore important for all organisations to ensure that they have the resources to monitor compliance and support respective implementation of surgical patient safety strategies. As uptake of some of the recommendations has been reported to be poor in some healthcare settings, the newly formed global surgical site infection prevention group (SSIP) has put forward proposals to help organisations adhere more or comply more via dedicated and delegated champion roles.


There have been many debates on whether all surgical patients should shower with an antiseptic agent preoperatively or not. From the author's personal experiences, the use of an antiseptic bath or shower appeared to be linked with a reduction in avoidable surgical site or wound infections. This is supported by previous published surgical site infection literature and therefore something that healthcare professionals should consider in their own settings with consideration of other local contextual factors. Given the inconsistences in compliance to evidence-based SSI prevention recommendations or the lack of data to prove the adherence, there is a need to things differently. The newly formed SSI prevention group therefore present welcome proposals that have potential to transform surgical patient safety for good. Check SSIP website here: https://ssiprevention.com/.

Lilian Chiwera
SSI Prevention

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Surgical site infection prevention bundles: a focus on preoperative skin decolonisation, British Journal of Nursing, May 2024, Mark Allen Group,
DOI: 10.12968/bjon.2024.33.9.430.
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