Considering a new domain for antimicrobial stewardship: Topical antibiotics in the open surgical wound

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The global push to combat the problem of antimicrobial resistance has led to the development of antimicrobial stewardship programs (ASPs), which were recently mandated by The Joint Commission and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. However, the use of topical antibiotics in the open surgical wound is often not monitored by these programs nor is it subject to any evidence-based standardization of care. Survey results indicate that the practice of using topical antibiotics intraoperatively, in both irrigation fluids and powders, is widespread. Given the risks inherent in their use and the lack of evidence supporting it, the practice should be monitored as a core part of ASPs, and alternative agents, such as antiseptics, should be considered.

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