Prevention of bloodstream infections by use of daily chlorhexidine baths for patients at a long-term acute care hospital

Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2009 Nov;30(11):1031-5. doi: 10.1086/644751.


Objective: To evaluate the effect of bathing patients with 2% chlorhexidine on the rates of central vascular catheter (CVC)-associated bloodstream infection (BSI) at a long-term acute care hospital (LTACH).

Design: Quasi-experimental study.

Setting: A 70-bed LTACH in the greater Chicago area.

Patients: All consecutive patients admitted to the LTACH during the period from February 2006 to February 2008.

Methods: For patients at the LTACH, daily 2% chlorhexidine baths were instituted during the period from September 2006 until May 2007 (ie, the intervention period). A preintervention period (in which patients were given daily soap-and-water baths) and a postintervention period (in which patients were given daily nonmedicated baths and weekly 2% chlorhexidine baths) were also observed. The rates of CVC-associated BSI and ventilator-associated pneumonia were analyzed for the intervention period and for the pre- and postintervention periods.

Results: The rates of CVC-associated BSI were 9.5, 3.8, and 6.4 cases per 1,000 CVC-days during the preintervention, intervention, and postintervention periods, respectively. By the end of the intervention period, there was a net reduction of 99% in the CVC-associated BSI rate. No changes were seen in the rates of ventilator-associated pneumonia during the preintervention and intervention periods.

Conclusion: Daily chlorhexidine baths appeared to be an effective intervention to reduce rates of CVC-associated BSI in an LTACH.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local / administration & dosage*
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local / pharmacology
  • Bacteremia / epidemiology
  • Bacteremia / microbiology
  • Bacteremia / prevention & control*
  • Baths*
  • Catheter-Related Infections / epidemiology
  • Catheter-Related Infections / microbiology
  • Catheter-Related Infections / prevention & control*
  • Catheterization, Central Venous / adverse effects*
  • Chlorhexidine / administration & dosage*
  • Chlorhexidine / pharmacology
  • Cross Infection / epidemiology
  • Cross Infection / microbiology
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control*
  • Hospitals, Special
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / methods
  • Long-Term Care


  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local
  • Chlorhexidine