Surgical Antibiotic Prophylaxis

Surgical antibiotic prophylaxis (SAP) refers to the use of antibiotics to prevent infections that can occur following a surgical procedure.

Unfortunately, over prescribing of antibiotics for prevention of surgical site infections is a continuous and prevalent issue in Australian hospitals, according to a recent report capturing data from 2013-2016 (Results of the 2016 Hospital National Antibiotic Prescribing Survey).

The report found that around 42% of antibiotics for surgical prophylaxis were deemed inappropriate due to prolonged courses, incorrect dose or the procedure not requiring antibiotics for prophylaxis.

In response to this study, monitoring surgical antibiotic prophylaxis has become an accreditation requirement of the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards. If SAP is identified as an area requiring focus and improvement in a health facility, evidence of action taken in response to these issues must be demonstrated in order to successfully meet the NSQHS Standards.

Clinical Excellence Commission supports NSW facilities throughout this process. An expert multidisciplinary group has developed a SAP toolkit to guide local teams in improving SAP. The toolkit includes fact sheets and guides, Quality Improvement tools, and templates for assisting in the improvement process across facilities.