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Joint position on surgical antibiotic prophylaxis agreed on

National Clinical Programme for Surgery and HSE agree joint position on surgical antibiotic prophylaxis.

A new position statement on the recommended maximum duration of antibiotic prophylaxis for surgery has been agreed by the RCSI National Clinical Programme for Surgery (NCPS), the HSE antimicrobial resistance and infection control team (AMRIC), the HSE national clinical programmes and the postgraduate training bodies for surgery, anaesthesia and obstetrics.

The primary drive for this initiative is to reduce risk of patient harm. This is from unnecessary doses of preventative antibiotics around the time of surgery.

Evidence shows that the majority of patients need just one dose of antibiotic to prevent surgical site infection. But an Irish audit in September and October 2020 showed that prophylaxis exceeded a single dose in 62% of patients. A 2017 European study performed in Scotland demonstrated only 35% patients received more than one dose of antibiotic for prophylaxis.

The position statement is intended to represent clear recommendations on surgical antibiotic prophylaxis.

The broadest possible consensus of expert opinion in Ireland supported this evidence. Regarding generally accepted maximum durations of surgical antibiotic prophylaxis for different types of surgery.

A collaborative working group including AMRIC in addition to the NCPS have developed additional resources. These are to support the implementation and launch of this programme. These resources include an audit tool, posters, a PowerPoint presentation and an eLearning module.  The eLearning module is available through HSeLanD. It focusses on all aspects of surgical antibiotic prophylaxis including “the right duration”. Therefore to meet Irish Medical Council CPD requirements, use the eLearning module.

Professor Deborah McNamara, Co-Lead, NCPS spoke about it. She said “Reducing the risk of surgical site infection is a priority for every surgeon. We welcome this guidance that will give surgeons and their teams, further tools to support best practice. This is while also minimising patient harm and the development of antimicrobial resistance in Ireland.”


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