Effect of hospital-wide chlorhexidine patient bathing on healthcare-associated infections

Mark E. Rupp, R. Jennifer Cavalieri, Elizabeth Lyden, Jennifer Kucera, Mary Ann Martin, Teresa Fitzgerald, Kate Tyner, James R. Anderson, Trevor C. VanSchooneveld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Background. Chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) bathing has been used primarily in critical care to prevent central line-associated bloodstream infections and infections due to multidrug-resistant organisms. The objective was to determine the effect of hospital-wide CHG patient bathing on healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). Design. Quasi-experimental, staged, dose-escalation study for 19 months followed by a 4-month washout period, in 3 cohorts. Setting. Academic medical center. Patients. All patients except neonates and infants. intervention and measurements. CHG bathing in the form of bed basin baths or showers administered 3 days per week or daily. CHG bathing compliance was monitored, and the rate of HAIs was measured. Results. Over 188,859 patient-days, 68,302 CHG baths were administered. Adherence to CHG bathing in the adult critical care units (90%) was better than that observed in other units (57.7%,). A significant decrease in infections due to Clostridium difficile P <.001 was observed in all cohorts of patients during the intervention period, followed by a significant rise during the washout period. For all cohorts, the relative risk of C. difficile infection compared to baseline was 0.71 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.57-0.89; Pp.003) for 3-days-perweek CHG bathing and 0.41 (95% CI, 0.29-0.59; P <.001) for daily CHG bathing. During the washout period, the relative risk of infection was 1.85 (95% CI, 1.38-2.53; P=<.001), compared to that with daily CHG bathing. A consistent effect of CHG bathing on other HAIs was not observed. No adverse events related to CHG bathing were reported. Conclusions. CHG bathing was well tolerated and was associated with a significant decrease in C. difficile infections in hospitalized Patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1094-1100
Number of pages7
JournalInfection Control and Hospital Epidemiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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