Applying Chlorhexidine Gluconate Prior to Surgery May Prevent Surgical Site Infection and MRSA

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), surgical site infections (SSIs) are the leading hospital-acquired infection (38 percent) and the third most common hospital-acquired infection for surgery patients. Patients are increasingly carrying harmful and potentially resistant bacteria on their skin, including methicillin-resistant Staphyloccus aureus (MRSA), and preparing skin with antiseptic agents, such as chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG), can help lower SSI risk.

Research indicates that SSIs can increase hospital length of stay from 7 to 10 days and account for $25,546 in average treatment costs, said Ginny Lipke, RN, BS, ACRN, CIC, with the infection control department at St. Luke Hospital in Ft. Thomas, Ky. When patients enter a hospital, the hospital inherits whatever organisms they carry, which may contribute to infection risk. Because most SSIs are caused by patients own skin flora, clinicians across the country are exploring opportunities to reduce skin-related risks.

The CDCs Hospital Infection Control Practices Committee (HICPAC) has set guidelines to aid in the prevention of SSIs and recommends preoperative antiseptic cleansing to reduce local bacteria at least the night before surgery. CHG is the only preoperative skin prep agent that the CDC recognizes as having excellent activity against gram-positive bacteria as well as excellent residual activity. CHG immediately fights microorganisms upon application to the skin, and continues antimicrobial activity for hours after application.

CHG works best when left on patients skin. Our organization recommends using CHG cloths before surgery for labor and delivery-related elective surgery patients, said Robert Garcia, BS, MT (ASCP), CIC, assistant director of infection control at Brookdale University Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Using the agent prior to surgery is a necessary component of all preoperative medical procedures, which supports our hospitals infection control efforts and improves patient safety.

Reducing surgical complications -- and surgical site infection prevention -- is one of the interventions included in the Institute for Healthcare Improvements (IHI) new Protecting 5 Million Lives from Harm Campaign. Protecting patients skin with CHG prior to surgery can reduce bacteria levels and prevent SSIs from occurring. Reducing MRSA infections is another one of the IHIs new campaign interventions. The organization recommends decolonizing MRSA positive patients prior to surgery.

CHG reduces skin colonization count, further reducing infection risk, said Charles E. Edmiston Jr., MD, and hospital epidemiologist with the department of surgery at Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital in Milwaukee. The agent is persistent and once applied, suppresses bacterial growth, helping to fight against MRSA and other antibiotic resistant organisms. The IHI and other organizations are driving a higher awareness of infection risk and a recognition that we must do everything that we can do to reduce patient risk.

Since 1971, Sage Products has developed innovative, disposable healthcare products trusted by healthcare professionals worldwide. The company has a core belief in preventionthat evidence-based interventions will lead to improved outcomes. Sage is pioneering the drive toward Interventional Patient Hygiene with its industry-leading Toothette® oral care and Comfort Personal Cleansing® skin care brands. These advanced hygiene products make it easier for busy nurses to deliver essential patient care. Sages ultimate goal is to help clinicians improve patient safety and outcomes by addressing risk factors for skin breakdown and healthcare-associated pneumonias.

Source: Sage Products

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