Antimicrobial Management of Skin and Soft Tissue Infections among Surgical Wards in South Africa: Findings and Implications

Atlanta B. Makwela, Wandisile M. Grootboom, Veena Abraham, Bwalya Witika, Brian Godman*, Phumzile P. Skosana*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number275
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023


  • South Africa
  • antimicrobial resistance
  • antimicrobial utilization
  • guidelines
  • hospitals
  • post-surgical care
  • skin and soft tissue infections


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