Using germ-killing soap and ointment on all intensive care unit (ICU) patients can reduce bloodstream infections by as much as 44 percent and significantly reduce the presence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in ICUs, according to a study co-authored by physicians at Rush and published in the May 29 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
The study, funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, was conducted in two stages between 2009 and 2011. Researchers evaluated the effectiveness of three MRSA prevention practices: routine care, providing germ-killing soap and ointment to only patients with MRSA, and providing germ-killing soap and ointment to all ICU patients.
"The strategy that proved to be most effective was perhaps the most straightforward: All patients were bathed daily with chlorhexidine antiseptic soap for the duration of their ICU stay and all received mupirocin antibiotic ointment applied in the nose for five days," says study co-author Mary Hayden, MD, professor of infectious diseases and pathology at Rush. Robert Weinstein, MD, professor of medicine at Rush, was also a co-author of the study.
In addition to being effective at stopping the spread of MRSA in ICUs, the study found the use of germ-killing soap and ointment on all ICU patients also prevented infections caused by other germs.
Rush Physician July/August 2013