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Postoperative dressings may not reduce infection risk

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Dressing clean surgical wounds with postoperative dressings does not decrease the level of infection and wound dehiscence, say researchers.

The study looked at 123 patients with clean or clean-contaminated (e.g. hernia, orchidectomy cystolithotomy, ureterolithotomy, appendectomy) sutured surgical wounds.

The patients were randomised into two groups: those who did not receive postoperative dressings and those who did.

The study found no significant difference in the rate of wound complications between those who did and did not receive postoperative dressings.

The researchers concluded that based on this data, surgical wounds left open do not increase the incidence of surgical site infection and wound dehiscence, compared with similar types of wounds dressed postoperatively.

They said: “In a large teaching hospital, the extrapolated cost savings of dressing materials alone can be significant.”

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Martyn Butcher

    The findings of this research need to be carefully considered. Having read the paper there are a number of points which need to be highlighted:
    *this is NOT a UK study - it was carried out in India where healthcare practice differs greatly from that seen in the UK. Interestingly the NT headline and text doesn't state this
    *the researchers do not state what post-op care regimes were in place; they simply state that post op dressings need regular re-dressing - how relevant is this to UK practice where we recommend they remain intact? What effect does regular contact with healthcare workers hands have on infection rates? Remember that the majority of pathogenic bacteria do not originate from the patient but from cross infection
    *the researchers do not say how the dressed wounds were managed. As has previously been highlighted (Aindow & Butcher (2005)Films or fabrics: is it time to re-appraise postoperative dressings? British Journal of Nursing 14(19 Suppl): S15 - S20), post op dressings need to be selected carefully and it is necessary to understand the role the external environment might have on their effectiveness. It is interesting that the authors state that sweating is a major problem with post op dressings which leads to maceration. I wonder how relevant that is to the UK market?

    As always, research has to be critically reviewed and put within its appropriate context - do not accept statements until you've looked at all the facts!

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  • Richard White

    Martyn Butcher is quite correct. Jumping to conclusions has cost nurses a lot of credibility in recent years. It is, in my opinion, a responsibility of Nursing Times.net to subject such reports to a critical appraisal before posting them on the website. Just because this has been published in a peer-reviewed journal, it doesn't make it relevant everywhere. This does, of course, impose another burden on the busy practitioner. However, this is exactly where the clinical nurse specialists can exert their influence. Throughout this country there will be numerous skilled TVNs and other highly skilled and experienced nurses who are capable of criticising such data objectively. Perhaps Nursing Times.net might act with a greater degree of responsibility!

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