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Randomised controlled trial
In intensive care and bone marrow transplantation settings, daily bathing with chlorhexidine wash cloths reduces the risk of hospital-acquired infection
  1. Joan Webster1,2,
  2. Gabor Mihala3
  1. 1Centre for Clinical Nursing, Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, Herston, Queensland, Australia
  2. 2NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Nursing (NCREN), Centre for Health Practice Innovation, Griffith Health Institute, Griffith University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  3. 3Population and Social Health Research Program, Griffith University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  1. Correspondence to: Professor Joan Webster
    Centre for Clinical Nursing, Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, Research & Development Centre, Level 2, Builing 34, Butterfield Street, Herston, QLD 4029, Australia; joan_webster{at}

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Commentary on: Climo MW, Yokoe DS, Warren DK, et al. Effect of daily chlorhexidine bathing on hospital-acquired infection. N Engl J Med 2013;368:533–42.

Implications for practice and research

  • Chlorhexidine-impregnated wash cloths have been shown to have some effect on multidrug-resistant acquisition and hospital-acquired blood stream infections in intensive care settings.

  • Further research, including cost-effectiveness, is required to confirm these findings in intensive care units and in other healthcare settings.


Hospital-acquired blood stream infections (BSI) remain as an important cause of morbidity and mortality in intensive care units (ICUs) and other high-risk settings. Incidence rates vary considerably, depending on factors such as patient characteristics, type of invasive procedures, infection control practices, definitions and duration of hospital stay. Recently reported BSI rates in intensive care settings range between 0.28 and 22 per 1000 ICU patient-days1 ,2 and mortality may be as high …

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