Infection Control

Tip of the Week: Sponges could help with infections

Infection Control Weekly Monitor, April 1, 2009

A new study published in the March 25 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that adding a sponge soaked in an antibacterial agent to the dressing around a catheter could reduce the chances of an infection.

The study involved 1,600 intensive care unit patients who either had catheters inserted with sponges soaked in chlorhexidine gluconate, an antibacterial commonly used in mouthwash, or whose care was with standard dressings, according to HealthDay. Researchers found infections were reduced 61% when chlorhexidine was used, and they estimated the antibacterial sponges prevented one major infection for every 117 catheters left in for about 10 days.

Besides reducing infections, use of the sponges also appeared to require less frequent changing of dressings, researchers found. However Dr. Pascal James Imperato, dean of the graduate program in public health at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center in New York City, told HealthDay that since dressings should be changed at least every three days, these findings have “limited practical application.”

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