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Antiseptic Baths Reduce Infection in Critically Ill

Reductions seen in catheter-related infections, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus

FRIDAY, March 19 (HealthDay News) -- Bathing critically ill patients daily with cloths containing chlorhexidine reduces bacterial infections, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), as well as catheter-related infections and MRSA ventilator-associated pneumonia, according to a study in the March issue of the Archives of Surgery.

Heather L. Evans, M.D., from Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, and colleagues compared rates of bacterial infection and ventilator-associated pneumonia in 286 severely injured patients bathed daily with cloths containing 2 percent chlorhexidine, and 253 severely injured patients bathed daily using cloths without chlorhexidine.

The researchers found that patients given chlorhexidine baths were significantly less likely to acquire a catheter-related bloodstream infection (2.1 versus 8.4 per 1,000 catheter-days), and be infected with MRSA (23.3 versus 69.3 per 1,000 patient-days) and Acinetobacter species (1.0 versus 4.6 per 1,000 patient-days). Bathing with chlorhexidine had no significant effect on the incidence of ventilator-associated pneumonia, but significantly reduced MRSA ventilator-associated pneumonia (1.6 versus 5.7 infections per 1,000 ventilator-days).

"Daily bathing of trauma patients with cloths impregnated with 2 percent chlorhexidine gluconate is associated with a decreased rate of colonization by MRSA and Acinetobacter and lower rates of catheter-related bloodstream infection and MRSA ventilator-associated pneumonia," Evans and colleagues conclude.

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