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Surgical scrub solution: It's good for patients, too
Date:9/4/2009

Among some 500 patients whose stay in hospital was long (at least 10 days), 11 who were washed with chlorhexidine had MRSA and five developed bloodstream infections. By contrast, MRSA was detected in 27 of a similar group who were bathed with plain soap, with eight developing bloodstream infections. Similarly, with VRE, nine patients in the chlorhexidine group had bloodstream infections, while 33 were infected in the plain-soap group.

As part of routine hospital procedures, any patients found to be infected or to be a carrier before infection has set in are placed in isolation for the remainder of their stay. Wound care is done only in designated, confined treatment spaces or separate rooms, and hospital staff must take special precautions between treatments, such as cleaning equipment and furniture with strong disinfectants and wearing disposable gloves, masks and gowns.

Perl says chlorhexidine has been in use since the 1950s, but its practical value had "not been appreciated" until now, citing the chemical's occasional use as a treatment for recurrent pimples as the main reason why the multicenter research team conducted the latest study.

"Our research is particularly important for preventing MRSA and other drug-resistant infections in children," she adds. Her team's previous research in 2007 showed that children admitted to Hopkins are increasingly identified as harboring MRSA or VRE, with four times as many children admitted to the pediatric ICU with MRSA and twice as many with VRE than five years ago.

In 2006, the Joint Commission estimated that 70 percent of the bacteria that cause infections for 2 million hospitalized Americans each year are resistant to at least one of the drugs most commonly used to treat them. Perl's only caution is the need for long-term monitoring to make sure that hampering the growth of one kind of bacteria -- both S. aureus and Enterococci or so-called gram-positive
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Contact: David March
dmarch1@jhmi.edu
410-955-1534
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Source:Eurekalert

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