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Drug-Coated Sponges May Limit Catheter Infections
Date:3/24/2009

More than 10% of ICU patients are thought to develop these infections,,,,

TUESDAY, March 24 (HealthDay News) -- Adding a sponge soaked in an antibacterial agent to the dressing around the spot where a catheter is inserted appears to reduce the chances that a potentially deadly infection will develop, French researchers report.

People in intensive care units (ICUs) usually require insertion of a central venous catheter. In the United States, about 80,000 catheter-related infections occur each year among ICU patients, including those caused by MRSA bacteria (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). The death rate from these infections can be as high as 11.5 percent, the researchers reported in the study.

"This is an important study," said Dr. Marc Siegel, an associate professor of medicine at New York University School of Medicine in New York City, who was not involved in the research. "The specific use of disinfectant in this way is important in preventing life-threatening infections" and has the potential to dramatically reduce the number of catheter-related infections, he said.

The report is published in the March 25 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

For the study, the research team randomly assigned more than 1,600 ICU patients to have their catheters inserted with sponges soaked in chlorhexidine gluconate, an antibacterial commonly used in mouthwash, or to have standard dressings used on the insertion site. Dressings were changed every three to seven days.

They found that the rate of infections dropped from 1.1 percent among people who'd had standard dressings to 0.5 percent among those with an antibacterial-soaked dressing -- a 61 percent reduction. The researchers estimated that the chlorhexidine gluconate dressings prevented one major infection for every 117 catheters left in place for about 10 days.

Besides reducing infections, use of
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