Study: Bathing patients in antibacterial agent protects against 'superbugs'

Researchers may have discovered another weapon in hospitals' ongoing fight against drug-resistant organisms. A new study published in Critical Care Medicine concludes that bathing hospital patients with a weak solution of chlorhexidine--the agent used by surgeons to scrub in before operations--could protect them against "superbug" infections like MRSA and vancomycin-resistant Enterococci.

Giving critically-ill hospital patients a sponge-bath with a 4 percent solution of chlorhexidine could lower bloodstream infections by as much as 73 percent, researchers said.

After instituting this program, which compared 2,650 chlorhexidine-bathed patients with 2,670 patients who bathed with soap and water, weekly swab tests at six different hospitals found 32 percent less MRSA cases and 50 percent fewer cases of vancomycin-resistant Enterococci in the patients who bathed using chlorhexidine.

While the researchers didn't project how much such reductions in infection could save U.S. hospitals if instituted nationwide, it seems likely that the number would be large. This looks like an exciting discovery.

To learn more about the study:
- read this UPI piece

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