Archives has a retrospective review this month from a level I trauma center in Canada that studies the effect of daily bathing with chlorhexidine solution on the development of infectious complications in ICU patients. 286 patients were studied over 6 months. Here are the essential results:
Patients receiving chlorhexidine baths were significantly less likely to acquire a catheter-related bloodstream infection than comparators (2.1 vs 8.4 infections per 1000 catheter-days, P = .01). The incidence of VAP (ventilator associated pneumonia) was not affected by chlorhexidine baths (16.9 vs 21.6 infections per 1000 ventilator-days in those with vs those without chlorhexidine baths, respectively, P = .30). However, patients who received chlorhexidine baths were less likely to develop MRSA VAP (1.6 vs 5.7 infections per 1000 ventilator-days, P = .03). The rate of colonization with MRSA (23.3 vs 69.3 per 1000 patient-days, P < .001) and Acinetobacter (1.0 vs 4.6 per 1000 patient-days, P = .36) was significantly lower in the chlorhexidine group than in the comparison group.
The ICU nurses are just going to love this paper. Nothing fires them up more than the anticipation of doing a head to toe sponge bath on an inert, intubated patient in the ICU that takes four people to roll from side to side.