Inside best practice: Brush patients' teeth to reduce ventilator-associated pneumonia

HCPro's Weekly Update on the ANCC Magnet Recognition Program®*, April 28, 2009

In 2004, the surgical intensive care unit (SICU) at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, MO, had 5.2 cases of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) per 1,000 ventilator days. But with the help of a year-long research study conducted by two SICU clinical nurse specialists, VAP rates are down to 1.5 cases per 1,000 ventilator days.

The research study showed that regular oral care for patients on ventilators can help reduce incidents of VAP by at least 50%. Now, at Barnes-Jewish Hospital—an ANCC Magnet Recognition Program® redesignation recipient in 2008—nurses brush patients’ teeth for one minute, and provide 15ml of .12% chlorhexidine gluconate solution every 12 hours until the patient is liberated from mechanical ventilation. The brushing and mouthwash prevent bacteria in the mouth from being aspirated and ending up in the lungs.

Editor’s note: Do you have a best practice you would like to share? E-mail them to associate editor Cameran Erny at and see your name in print!\

Source: HCPro’s Advisor to the ANCC Magnet Recognition Program®, May issue. Don't have a subscription? Take a look at the benefits of becoming a member of HCPro’s Resource Center for the ANCC Magnet Recognition Program®.

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