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Patients across the country may be opening themselves up to infection as a result of bathing practices applied in hospitals. According to a study published in the January 2009 American Journal of Critical Care, bath basins are a significant source for the transmission of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), especially to patients that are immune-compromised and those at high-risk. It is estimated that 1.75 million to 3.5 million patients admitted to U.S. hospitals, or 5 to 10 percent of all patients, contract HAIs leading to approximately 100,000 deaths annually.
The study, conducted at intensive care units at Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque, N.M., Wishard Health Services in Indianapolis and Westerly Hospital in Westerly, R.I., evaluated 92 basins finding 98 percent contained a variety of micro-organisms associated with infection.
Multidrug-resistant organisms that were found, such as the superbug methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vanocomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE), S. aureus, Enterococci, Gram-negative organisms, P. aeruginosa, C. albicans and E. coli can lead to conditions, including pneumonia, meningitis, septicemia, and urinary tract infections (UTI), among others requiring further patient treatment and extended time in the hospital.
Debra Johnson, RN, BSN, OCN, CIC, lead investigator in the study, suggests bath basins are a reservoir for bacteria and simple steps should be taken to further reduce the potential for infections.
"Every single person that walks into a hospital is immune-compromised. That is why it is important that we increase awareness of bath basins as a source for the transmission of infections," said Johnson. "Prevention measures such as rinsing out and wiping bath basins with antiseptic cleanser or bathing patients using pre-packaged washcloths could significantly reduce patient infections and hospital stays, even deaths due to HAIs. Infection prevention in the ICU and hospital in general must be a priority."
A leading alternative to traditional basin technique are pre-packaged, disposable cleansing washcloths such as the Comfort Bath cleansing system, a first line defense for nurses and caregivers in protecting patients from bacteria, eliminating the use of contaminated basins. The washcloths, manufactured and distributed by Sage Products, also include peel-and-stick Skin Check labels allowing nurses and nurses' aides to pinpoint areas on the body that may need to be checked for potential skin problems.
Beginning last October, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it would no longer provide reimbursement for required care associated with HAIs not reported upon the patient's admission to the hospital. Infection conditions include catheter-association UTI, vascular catheter-associated infection, surgical site infection (SSI) and pressure ulcers. The CMS guidelines, along with research, are putting additional focus on infection prevention.
Johnson says infection prevention measures are critical in the ICU where cases move quickly and require a passion to protect patients from the unseen.
Source: Sage Products Inc.