10 Infection Prevention Commandments For Surgeons


  1. Always perform hand hygiene BEFORE and AFTER touching a patient,  performing a procedure, or after touching the patient’s surroundings (even when the patient has not been touched e.g. Bedside chart, bed end etc.). Set the example for your team and expect others to follow your lead.

  2. Insist on the provision of alcohol based hand rubs at the patient bedside, in your clinic / rooms, and attached to all trolleys used on ward rounds (ie. patient record trolleys, Computers on Wheels) .

  3. Take alcohol-impregnated wipes on your ward rounds and insist that equipment such as stethoscopes, sphygmomanometers and pulse oximeters is disinfected BETWEEN use on every patient.

  4. Invasive devices are potent causes of serious infection with an escalating risk the longer they remain - remove them as soon as you can (within 3 days for peripheral cannulae)

  5. Ensure your team follows a standard, methodical, sterile (aseptic) approach for all invasive procedures (especially intravascular line insertion).

  6. Use antimicrobials with judicious restraint. Target antimicrobial therapy effectively- consult Therapeutic Guidelines: Antibiotic for the most appropriate agent(s), dose, route and duration.

  7. Be the first on your team to have the influenza vaccine every year and make it known to others. Ensure that your high risk patients are vaccinated in accord with the National Immunisation Guidelines recommendations.

  8. Insist upon receiving regular, relevant feedback about healthcare associated infections like MRSA involving your patients, and Hand Hygiene Compliance from your surgical wards.

  9. Look beyond the obvious when seeking source(s) of infection. Healthcare associated infection is characteristically multi-factorial. Surgical wound and device-related infection may be present even in the absence of visible local inflammation.

  10. Dress well for safer care – abandon ties and lanyards, bare your arms to the elbow- no wrist watches or jewellery.


Developed by Dr Craig Boutlis and Dr John Ferguson 

Edited by HHA