September 4, 2009

Surgeon’s soap reduces blood infections

Washing critically ill patients with the same solution doctors use to scrub in can dramatically reduce blood infections, researchers in Maryland said.

A daily wash with chlorhexidine glutonate is a cheap and effective means of protecting patients from so-called "super bugs, researchers at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, said.

Johns Hopkins found a daily application of 4 percent chlorhexidine glutonate in solution reduced blood infections by as much as 73 percent.

Blood infections occur in as much as 20 percent of patients in hospital intensive care units, increasing their chance of death by as much as 25 percent, said the study published in the journal of Critical Care Medicine.

Even when not fatal, blood infections lengthen hospital stays by an average of a week and can add as much as $40,000 in medical costs, epidemiologist Dr. Trish Perl said.

The study was conducted with 500 critically ill patients between December 2004 and January 2006.