PICU infections reduced by a shared procedure

Photo credits audi_insperation

Hospital procedures are improving daily and one such measure may have just decreased pediatric intensive care patient bacterial infections by 35%. Researchers of Baltimore, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Washington recently found that chlorhexidine gluconate baths for pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) patients reduces bacteremia (bacteria in the blood) by 35%.

Infants of the intensive care unit have immune systems that are not fully equipped to deal with infections they may face. As such, infections such as MRSA, a hospital born pathogen, can prove lethal.

Chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) is an anti-bacterial agent that kills gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria. It is also the antiseptic physicians clean their hands with before invasive procedures.

To test the efficacy of bathing PICU patients with CHG, five hospitals across the U.S. participated in either standard bathing procedures or 2% CHG cloth wipes over 6 months for patients and switching to the other bathing procedure for 6 months thereafter. 4947 participants were included in this study.

The population receiving standard bathing showed incidence of infection as 4.93 cases per 1,000 days (95% CI 3.91 – 6.15) while those receiving the CHG bath showed 3.52 cases per 1,000 days (95% CI 2.64 – 4.61). That was a 35% reduction in bacteremia cases in the CHG group compared to the standard bathing group. Furthermore, no serious adverse events caused by bathing were seen in those receiving the CHG.

The PICU adopting the pre-procedure wash habits of physicians has shown to significantly decrease bacterial infections. This easy to implement solution to bacteremia is just one such case of shared ideas improving the quality of life.

Aaron M. Milstone, Alexis Elward, Xiaoyan Song, Dianielle M. Zerr, Rachel Orscheln, Kathleen Speck, Daniel Obeng, Nicholas G. Reich, Susan E. Coffin, Trish M. Perl. Daily chlorhexidine bathing to reduce bacteraemia in critically ill children: a multicentre, cluster-randomised, crossover trial. The Lancet, 2013.


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