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Healthcare associated infections (HCAIs) are falling following widespread and enforced introduction of guidelines, particularly those that have addressed antibiotic resistant pathogens such as methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus or emergent pathogens such as Clostridium difficile, but no such decline has been seen in the incidence of surgical site infection (SSI), either in the UK, the EU or the US. SSI is one of the HCAIs, which are all avoidable complications of a surgical patient's pathway through both nosocomial and community care.This report is based on a meeting held at The Royal College of Surgeons of England on 21 July 2016. Using PubMed, members of the panel reviewed the current use of antiseptics and antimicrobial sutures in their specialties to prevent SSI.The group agreed that wider use of antiseptics in surgical practice may help in reducing reliance on antibiotics in infection prevention and control, especially in the perioperative period of open elective colorectal, hepatobiliary and cardiac operative procedures. The wider use of antiseptics includes preoperative showering, promotion of hand hygiene, (including the appropriate use of surgical gloves), preoperative skin preparation (including management of hair removal), antimicrobial sutures and the management of dehisced surgical wounds after infection. The meeting placed emphasis on the level I evidence that supports the use of antimicrobial sutures, particularly in surgical procedures after which the SSI rate is high (colorectal and hepatobiliary surgery) or when a SSI can be life threatening even when the rate of SSI is low (cardiac surgery).