Washing away bad bugs
A new study in Critical Care Medicine documents the benefit of chlorhexidine bathing in ICU patients. The multicenter study performed in 6 ICUs compared a 6-month period of routine bathing with soap and water to a subsequent 6-month period of daily bathing with chlorhexidine. During both phases of the study, active surveillance cultures for MRSA and VRE were performed on admission to the ICUs and weekly thereafter. Acquisition of MRSA decreased by 32% and VRE acquisition decreased by 50% during the chlorhexidine phase. VRE bloodstream infections were reduced by 73%. There was no difference in the incidence of MRSA bloodstream infections between the two study periods, but the rate was very low in both phases of the study. This is a great example of a non-pathogen specific, simple but effective, horizontal intervention to prevent healthcare associated infections.