Daily antiseptic bath cuts infections 31% for patients with indwelling devices, study finds

A bacterial decolonization strategy involving daily bathing with an antiseptic soap can significantly reduce bloodstream infections in patients with catheters or lumbar drains, according to a study published in The Lancet.

Researchers from Boston-based Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, the University of California Irvine, Chicago-based Rush University, and Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare conducted the study — known as the ABATE Infection Trial — with funding from the National Institutes of Health.

For the study, researchers examined whether bathing patients daily with an antiseptic soap and giving patients with a history of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus a nasal mupirocin antibiotic ointment could help reduce hospital infections. Researchers implemented the decolonization strategy in 194 units, excluding intensive care, at 53 HCA Healthcare hospitals between 2013 and 2016. The trial included a 12-month baseline period, a two-month phase-in period and a 21-month intervention period.

Overall, the intervention did not significantly reduce infections in the 330,000 patients involved in the study. However, researchers noted a 31 percent reduction in bloodstream infections and a nearly 40 percent reduction in antibiotic-resistant bacteria among patients with central-line catheters or lumbar drains.

"Until additional data becomes available, we believe it will be worthwhile to adopt this decolonization strategy as best practice in non-ICU patients with devices like these to reduce bloodstream infection and antibiotic resistant organisms," senior author Richard Platt, MD, executive director of the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, said in a press release.

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