Antiseptic Bath Prevents Infection, Saves Money
By Dr. James Palermo // February 14, 2013
A multi-center study recently reported in the New England Journal Of Medicine strongly suggests that the simple practice of daily bathing with chlorhexidine-impregnated washcloths significantly reduced the patient risks of acquiring a multi-drug resistant organism (MDRO) infection and developing a hospital-acquired bloodstream infection.
A daily 20-cent broad-spectrum antiseptic bath lowered the rate of hospital-acquired bloodstream infections by 28 percent, and reduced dangerous MDRO infections, such as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE), by 23 percent.
Simple, Inexpensive Practice Prevents Costly Infections
Edward Wong, chief of infectious disease at Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Richmond, Virginia, and colleagues analyzed more than 7,700 patients across six bone marrow transplant units and nine ICUs. Health care providers were randomly assigned to bathe patients with either a washcloth soaked in the antiseptic chlorhexidine or one soaked in a non-antibacterial solution for six months, and then alternate with the other solution for another six months.
“We’re talking about an intervention that’s very simple to implement and minimal in cost,” Dr. Wong told HealthDay.com. “This can be laid on top of all the other things [experts recommend] to decrease the spread of these organisms.”
According to the Centers For Disease Control (CDC), as many as 5% of hospital inpatients contract a bloodstream or drug-resistant infection, which cost about $40,000 per case. Wong emphasizes that chlorhexidine wipes “are clearly going to cost much less than the cost of antibiotics or the cost of health care.”
The efficacy of the use of chlorhexidine for preoperative bathing and surgical skin preparation to help prevent surgical site infection has previously been clearly established. The dramatic results of this study may be compelling enough to incorporate chlorhexidine bathing into evidence-based routine daily nursing care.