Evid Based Nurs 10:113 doi:10.1136/ebn.10.4.113
  • Treatment

Irrigation of simple lacerations with tap water or sterile saline in the emergency department did not differ for wound infections

 Q In patients presenting to the emergency department (ED) with simple lacerations, is wound irrigation with tap water equivalent to irrigation with sterile saline for wound infections?



randomised controlled trial.




blinded (outcome assessors).

GraphicFollow-up period:

5–14 days after wound closure.


2 urban trauma centres and 1 suburban community hospital in the US.


713 patients >17 years of age who presented to the ED with acute uncomplicated skin lacerations requiring staples or sutures. Exclusion criteria were puncture or bite wounds; self inflicted wounds; grossly contaminated wounds; wounds >8 hours old; wounds involving tendon, joint, or bone; diabetes; significant peripheral vascular disease; HIV or immunocompromised conditions; use of antibiotics or corticosteroids; or pregnancy.


339 patients were allocated to tap water irrigation. Patients with upper extremity wounds were instructed to irrigate their wounds for ⩾2 minutes …

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