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Experts pave the way for safer surgery to address global elective waiting lists

Surgical care experts have today unveiled two studies in The Lancet that will help to provide safer surgery for thousands of patients around the world — particularly in Low- and Middle-income Countries (LMIC).

Researchers found that routinely changing gloves and instruments just before closing wounds could significantly reduce Surgical Site Infection (SSI) — the world’s most common post-operative complication. Secondly, they tested a new toolkit that can make hospitals better prepared for pandemics, heatwaves, winter pressures and natural disasters that could reduce cancellations of planned procedures around the world.

Surgical infections

Patients in LMICs are disproportionately affected by wound infections, but following a trial of the procedure in Benin, Ghana, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Africa, researchers found that a routine switch of gloves and instruments during abdominal wound closures could prevent as many as 1 in 8 cases of SSI.

The ChEETAh trial was funded by the UK’s National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). Publishing their findings today in The Lancet, researchers are calling for the practice to be widely implemented — particularly in LMICs.

Co-author Mr Aneel Bhangu, from the University of Birmingham, commented: “Surgical site infection is the world’s most common postoperative complication — a major burden for both patients and health systems. Our work demonstrates that routine change of gloves and instruments is not only deliverable around the world, but also reduced infections in a range of surgical settings. Taking this simple step could reduce SSIs by 13% — simply and cost-effectively.”

Patients who develop SSI experience pain, disability, poor healing with risk of wound breakdown, prolonged recovery times and psychological challenges. In health systems where patients have to pay for treatment this can be a disaster and increases the risk of patients being plunged into poverty after their treatment. The simple and low-cost practice of changing your gloves and instruments just before closing the wound is something which can be done by surgeons in any hospital around, meaning a huge potential impact.

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  • Posted on November 4, 2022