Antimicrobial management of skin and soft tissue infections among surgical wards in South Africa : findings and the implications

Makwela, Atlanta B. and Grootboom, Wandisile M. and Abraham, Veena and Witika, Bwalya and Godman, Brian and Skosana, Phumzile P. (2023) Antimicrobial management of skin and soft tissue infections among surgical wards in South Africa : findings and the implications. Antibiotics, 12 (2). 275. ISSN 2079-6382 (

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Skin and soft tissue infections (SSTIs) are one of the most common infectious diseases requiring antibiotics. However, complications of SSTIs may lead to the overprescribing of antibiotics and to subsequent antibiotic resistance. Consequently, monitoring the prescribing alignment with the current recommendations from the South African Standard Treatment Guidelines (STG) is necessary in order to improve future care. This study involved reviewing pertinent patients with SSTIs who were prescribed antimicrobials in the surgical ward of a leading South African tertiary public hospital from April to June 2021 using an adapted data collection tool. Sixty-seven patient files were reviewed. Among the patients with SSTIs, hypertension and chronic osteomyelitis were the most frequent co-morbidities at 22.4% and 13.4%, respectively. The most diagnosed SSTIs were surgical site infections (35.1%), wound site infections (23%), and major abscesses (16.2%). Blood cultures were performed on 40.3% of patients, with Staphylococcus aureus (32.7%) and Enterococcus spp. (21.2%) being the most cultured pathogens. Cefazolin was prescribed empirically for 46.3% of patients for their SSTIs. In addition, SSTIs were treated with gentamycin, ciprofloxacin, and rifampicin at 17.5%, 11.3%, and 8.8%, respectively, with treatment fully complying with STG recommendations in 55.2% of cases. Overall, the most common cause of SSTIs was Staphylococcus aureus, and empiric treatment is recommended as the initial management. Subsequently, culture sensitivities should be performed to enhance adherence to STGs and to improve future care.