Antiseptic-laced washcloths better than soap and water at preventing healthcare-associated illnesses, researchers say

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The use of washcloths infused with a of 2% chlorhexidine gluconate (CGH) solution lowers the risk for getting a healthcare-related infection from methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE) by 64%, according to a new study.

Researchers from Rhode Island Hospital studied 7,700 adult patients admitted to general medicine units who used the CGH cloths for bathing throughout their hospital stay. They also studied a control group of 7,100 patients who used soap and water throughout the duration of their hospital stay. Previous studies have found that CGH is effective in treating infections in ICUs, but not in other patient settings.

"Our results require confirmation before CHG bathing in non-ICU patients becomes a standard of care,” said senior investigator Leonard Mermel, D.O. “Nonetheless, our findings have certain strengths, including our large sample size." The study was published online in advance of print in the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.