NEW DELHI : Antibiotics to prevent infection at the surgical site should not continue beyond 48 hours, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has said.

As per the agency, prolonged antibiotic administration to prevent infection or prophylaxis is not only ineffective in reducing infections but increases antimicrobial resistance and the risk of infection with Clostridium Difficile – inflammation of the colon.

“Most studies have demonstrated efficacy of perioperative antibiotic prophylaxis for only 12 hours or less. Whenever short and long courses are compared, the shorter course has proven equally effective. A single dose is as effective as multiple doses, and antimicrobial prophylaxis after wound closure is unnecessary,” it adds.

The ICMR advisory comes in the wake of an increased antimicrobial resistance, especially in hospital settings. Many doctors continue antibiotic therapy for a week to 10 days only to prevent infection post-surgery which, the ICMR says, should be discouraged.

Another common practice followed by doctors is the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics – antibiotics that act on the two major bacterial groups, Gram-positive and Gram-negative – instead of narrow-spectrum antibiotics that target a select group only. The ICMR, in its latest guideline says, antibiotics should be chosen on the basis of their effectiveness against the pathogens most likely to be encountered rather than against every possible pathogen.