Antiseptic baths in ICUs shown to not increase drug-resistance in MRSA

Chlorhexidine, an antiseptic used to bathe patients in intensive care units to prevent infection has been shown not to increase drug resistance in pathogens responsible for hospital-acquired infections, according to an Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology study. 

"There has been concern in the healthcare community about the impact of routine, daily chlorhexidine bathing on fostering the spread of bacteria resistant to this agent," David Warren, MD, lead author of the study and Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Washington University School of Medicine and Hospital Epidemiologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, said in a news release. "We did not see sustained increase in [methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus] resistant to chlorhexidine."

Barnes-Jewish Hospital researchers reviewed ICU data from 2005 through 2012, comparing the level of chlorhexidine resistance in 500 randomly selected MRSA samples. They found the level of resistance to chlorhexidine fell from 6.2 percent to zero, before rising back up to 1.5 percent between 2006 and 2009, then spiked to 16.9 in 2009 before falling again to 4.6 percent in 2011 and 7.7 percent in 2012. The authors concluded the spikes in MRSA resistance can likely be attributed to patients entering the ICU who were already colonized with drug-resistant MRSA.

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