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Daily Antiseptic Baths In ICU Cuts Risk Of Bloodstream Infections In Kids

5:12 PM, Jan 29, 2013   |    comments
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BALTIMORE, Md. (WUSA) -- Changing the way children are bathed in the hospital can be a lifesaver.

A study out of Johns Hopkins Children's Center looked at more than 4,000 children in intensive care units and found those who got daily antiseptic baths had a 36 percent lower risk of getting a dangerous bloodstream infection.

The hospital staff switched out the standard soap they were using for the kind that fights bacteria.  St. Louis Children's Hospital, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Seattle Children's Hospital and Children's National Medical Center all participated in the study.

Infectious diseases expert Dr. Aaron Milstone of Johns Hopkins Children's Center says, "We think that it happens because this antiseptic reduces bacteria on the skin.  And by reducing bacteria on the skin, we prevent a catheter that goes into the blood from getting contaminated."

The study was started back in 2006.  Dr. Milstone says he hopes the research changes practices in hospitals everywhere, preventing sometimes deadly infections in an inexpensive and easy way.

Dr. Milstone says, "Historically, bathing was not seen in the ICU as a strategy to prevent infections.  Bathing was seen as a way to comfort a child or to clean a child after they got soiled.  We've taken bathing and made it into a clinical intervention and its then shown to cause a drastic reduction in bloodstream infections."

This is the first study that showed the effects of antiseptic baths and children in the ICU.  Past studies with adult ICU patients reveal that bathing with antiseptic soap reduces the risk of bloodstream infections and can prevent the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.