SWITZERLAND—The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced its first global guidelines to prevent bloodstream and other infections caused by catheters put into tiny blood vessels during medical procedures.

These guidelines highlight the serious hazards associated with inadequate catheter insertion, maintenance, and removal, which can introduce deadly microorganisms directly into the bloodstream.

The guidelines went on to say that such neglect can lead to severe illnesses, including sepsis, which can cause issues in important organs like the brain and kidneys, as well as soft tissue infections near the catheter insertion site.

The publication highlighted the extensive use of catheters, particularly peripherally inserted catheters (PIVCs), in hospital settings, revealing that up to 70% of inpatients require catheterization at some point during their stay.

Furthermore, people receiving catheter-based therapies are more vulnerable to infections due to underlying diseases or weakened immunity.

According to WHO estimates, the mortality rate among patients with healthcare-associated sepsis averaged 24.4% between 2000 and 2018, rising substantially to 52.3% for those treated in intensive care units.

Alarmingly, many bloodstream infections stem from antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains WHO data suggests that bacterial antimicrobial resistance (AMR) was directly responsible for at least 1.27 million deaths in 2019, with an additional 4.95 million deaths attributed to its contribution.

Addressing the urgency of the matter, Dr. Bruce Aylward, WHO Assistant Director-General for Universal Health Coverage, emphasized that healthcare-associated infections constitute a preventable tragedy and a grave menace to healthcare quality and safety.

He stressed the imperative of implementing clean care protocols and infection prevention measures to mitigate avoidable suffering and save lives worldwide.

The new guidelines comprise 14 good practice statements and 23 recommendations for healthcare workers, encompassing education, training, aseptic techniques, hand hygiene practices, catheter insertion, maintenance, access, removal, and selection.

This milestone release is consistent with the World Health Organization’s 2018 recommendation for bladder catheterization time following surgical repair of an uncomplicated obstetric urinary fistula, which advocates for a standardized 7–10-day catheterization interval to assist in complete healing.

Prolonged catheterization not only causes discomfort and difficulty for patients and caregivers, but it also increases the risk of infection and erosion, requiring intense nursing care and generating more costs per patient.

These suggestions are very important for healthcare professionals, particularly fistula surgeons and nurses who provide postoperative care for women having surgery for obstetric urinary fistulae.

 Furthermore, they provide valuable information for national and municipal authorities, as well as professionals from nongovernmental organizations. and other organizations engaged in fistula care services.

With these new guidelines, WHO commits to collaborating with nations to develop and enforce best practices for curbing bloodstream infections in hospitals, thereby ensuring all patients receive safe and effective care.

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