This guideline covers preventing and treating surgical site infections in adults, young people and children who are having a surgical procedure involving a cut through the skin. It recommends effective methods to use before, during and after surgery to minimise the risk of infection.

In February 2017 a footnote was added to recommendation 1.2.11 linking to related recommendations in the NICE guideline on caesarean section.

Recommendations

This guideline includes recommendations on:

Who is it for?

  • Healthcare professionals
  • Commissioners and providers
  • People who are having surgery and their families and carers

Is this guideline up to date?

We checked this guideline in January 2017 and we are updating the following recommendations:

  • nasal decontamination of Staphylococcus aureus
  • choice of preoperative skin antiseptics
  • application of intraoperative topical antiseptics/antimicrobials before wound closure
  • type of suture.

Guideline development process

How we develop NICE guidelines

This guideline updates and replaces NICE technology appraisal guidance 24 (April 2001).

This guideline was previously called surgical site infection: prevention and treatment of surgical site infection.

Your responsibility

The recommendations in this guideline represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, professionals and practitioners are expected to take this guideline fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or the people using their service. It is not mandatory to apply the recommendations, and the guideline does not override the responsibility to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual, in consultation with them and their families and carers or guardian.

Local commissioners and providers of healthcare have a responsibility to enable the guideline to be applied when individual professionals and people using services wish to use it. They should do so in the context of local and national priorities for funding and developing services, and in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to reduce health inequalities. Nothing in this guideline should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with complying with those duties.


Commissioners and providers have a responsibility to promote an environmentally sustainable health and care system and should assess and reduce the environmental impact of implementing NICE recommendations wherever possible.

  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)