​​​​​​​CDC releases new guidelines to prevent surgical infections

The CDC's updated surgical infection guidelines is lacking some data, one expert says.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released new guidelines to prevent surgical site infections (SSIs).

The updated recommendations, published in JAMA Surgery, include:

  • Recommend that patients take a full body shower with soap or antiseptic no earlier than the night before surgery.
  • Use an alcohol-based product to cleanse skin in the operating room.
  • Do not use a topical antimicrobial substance in an incision.
  • Do not withhold needed transfused blood products to avoid SSIs.
  • Plastic adhesive drapes, with or without antimicrobial properties, are not necessary to prevent SSIs.
  • Administer antimicrobial prophylaxis prior to incision for Cesarean sections.
  • Maintain the patient’s normal body temperature.

The CDC last released guidelines in 1999, and it conducted a systematic review of 170 studies conducted between 1994 and 2014 before issuing the new recommendations. The 1999 guidelines, the CDC notes, were written before evidence-based methods were the norm.

In a commentary published alongside the new guidelines, Pamela A. Lipsett, M.D., program director of surgical critical care at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, called the updates “long-awaited.”

“It tells us what we should do and what we do not know,” Lipsett said.

However, she expressed concern that of the 42 statements included, 25 had no recommendation or were left unresolved, particularly those related to prosthetic joint surgery. This shows, she said, where there can be more effort in clinical trials and other research.

Related: WHO issues new guidelines to prevent surgical infections, superbugs

The CDC is not the only public health organization to take a look at its guides to preventing surgical infections, as the World Health Organization also released new recommendations in November. Their updated recommendations take on two major issues at once: infection control and antibiotic stewardship to halt the spread of superbugs.