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Antimicrobial Trumps Soap and Water in the ICU

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, February 7, 2013

Hospital infection preventionists need wait no longer. The debate is over.

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine helps settle the question once and for all: which solution is more effective for cleaning patients in the ICU: chlorhexidine or soap and water?

The answer: Cleaning patients with wash cloths impregnated with 2% chlorhexidine solution every dayfights hospital-acquired infections in the ICU better than wash cloths wettened with simple soap and water.   

Researchers recorded (clean) hands down win for chlorhexidine, especially as an agent effective against multiple drug-resistant organisms.

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Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Johns Hopkins University, Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center, Brigham & Women's Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Northwestern University, Cook County Health and Hospitals System, and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center all signed their names to it.

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