Reduction in hospital-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus with daily chlorhexidine gluconate bathing for medical inpatients

Published:December 08, 2016DOI:


      Daily bathing with chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) is increasingly used in intensive care units to prevent hospital-associated infections, but limited evidence exists for noncritical care settings.


      A prospective crossover study was conducted on 4 medical inpatient units in an urban, academic Canadian hospital from May 1, 2014-August 10, 2015. Intervention units used CHG over a 7-month period, including a 1-month wash-in phase, while control units used nonmedicated soap and water bathing. Rates of hospital-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE) colonization or infection were the primary end point. Hospital-associated S. aureus were investigated for CHG resistance with a qacA/B and smr polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and agar dilution.


      Compliance with daily CHG bathing was 58%. Hospital-associated MRSA and VRE was decreased by 55% (5.1 vs 11.4 cases per 10,000 inpatient days, P = .04) and 36% (23.2 vs 36.0 cases per 10,000 inpatient days, P = .03), respectively, compared with control cohorts. There was no significant difference in rates of hospital-associated Clostridium difficile. Chlorhexidine resistance testing identified 1 isolate with an elevated minimum inhibitory concentration (8 µg/mL), but it was PCR negative.


      This prospective pragmatic study to assess daily bathing for CHG on inpatient medical units was effective in reducing hospital-associated MRSA and VRE. A critical component of CHG bathing on medical units is sustained and appropriate application, which can be a challenge to accurately assess and needs to be considered before systematic implementation.

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