(HealthDay News) – Bathing hospitalized patients with antimicrobial washcloths reduces the risk of acquiring multidrug-resistant organisms and the risk of developing hospital-acquired bloodstream infections, according to a study published in the Feb. 7 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

Michael W. Climo, MD, from the McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Richmond, VA, and colleagues randomly assigned 7,727 patients in nine intensive care and bone marrow transplantation units in six hospitals to be bathed with either no-rinse 2% chlorhexidine-impregnated washcloths or with non-antimicrobial washcloths for six months. The groups were switched to the other product for the following six months.

The researchers found that chlorhexidine bathing was associated with a significant 23% lower rate of multidrug-resistant organism acquisition (5.1 vs. 6.6 cases per 1,000 patient-days). The overall rate of hospital-acquired bloodstream infections for chlorhexidine bathing was a significant 28% lower (4.78 vs. 6.6 cases per 1,000 patient-days). There were no serious skin reactions noted.

“Daily bathing with chlorhexidine-impregnated washcloths significantly reduced the risks of acquisition of multidrug-resistant organisms and development of hospital-acquired bloodstream infections,” Climo and colleagues conclude.

The study was funded in part by Sage Products, which supplied the washcloths used in the study; several authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical and health care companies, including Sage Products.

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