Communication is the key of disseminating the WHO guidelines

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Surgical site infections threaten the lives of millions of patients each year. How the WHO guidelines for the prevention of surgical site infections can help to reduce this infections, and which role plays hand hygiene/ resp. communication in this context? We asked Mohamed Abbas (University of Geneva Hospitals, Senior Research Associate in the Infection Control Programme) at the last Semmelweis Conference in Budapest.

Mr. Abbas, you contributed to the writing of specific chapters of the WHO guidelines for the prevention of surgical site infections. Can you give us an overview of the core topics, research questions and recommendations for the prevention of SSI? And which role plays (hand-) hygiene?

The guidelines give answers that are valid for any country and suitable to local adaptations. The topics are various, and of course hand hygiene plays an important role. In the guideline we can find the recommendation that surgical hand preparation should be performed by scrubbing with either a suitable antimicrobial soap and water or using a suitable alcohol-based handrub before donning sterile gloves. Preoperative bathing is also a big issue: Is antimicrobial soap more effective in reducing the incidence of SSI in surgical patients compared to bathing with plain soap?

Which role plays “communication” (topic of the Semmelweis Conference) in this issue?

Communication is the key of disseminating the guidelines, disseminating the knowledge of the evidence that the experts have analysed, and it’s also the key in translating this evidence into practice. So I would say that communication is really important, and especially for surgical site infections where are many stakeholders – the surgeons, the nurses, the patients, the policy makers, the hospital administration etc. Communication with all these actors can lead to a durable prevention of SSI.

Besides communication which parameters are also important?

It’s to find a good strategy for the implementation of this guidelines. This strategy will be issued by WHO, and it will follow the same model we already know from the hand hygiene experience: Issues such as evaluation of feed-back etc. will play an important role.
By the way: New perspectives on Surgical Site Infection prevention (Petra Gastmeier et al.) will be demonstrated on ICPIC 2017 in Geneva (20-23 June).

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Carola Timmel is journalist for print and radio and professional speaker. Her focus lies on the topic Medicine & Health.

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