Chlorhexidine solution more effective than iodine at combating surgical site infections

UK research reveals significant reduction in SSIs when surgical sites are cleaned with ChloraPrep

Research has revealed that chlorhexidine is more successful than traditional iodine in reducing rates of surgical site infections (SSIs).

Data analysis conducted by the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust on two groups of patients found that among the first group of 105 patients, whose skin was treated with iodine prior to incision, 13.5% had developed an SSI within 30 days of their surgery. The second group of 115 were treated with a 2% solution of chlorhexidine in 70% alcohol using a ChloraPrep applicator. In this group only one patient developed an SSI (0.8%).

Based on this reduction in infection rates the trust implemented a change from iodine to 2% chlorhexidine in some surgical specialities.

Gill Abbott, the trust’s deputy lead infection prevention and control nurse, said: “The last thing a patient wants when they undergo surgery is to pick up an infection, which can cause both pain and discomfort to the person and increase costs for the hospital.

Our findings make clear that many SSIs can be avoided by following the latest guidance from the Department of Health and using 2% chlorhexidine with a single patient use applicator such as ChloraPrep

“We wanted to understand and reduce the burden of surgical site infection rates at Heart of England Trust, so we introduced robust monitoring of the incidence and occurrence of post-operative infections and this led to changes in perioperative practice.

“Our findings make clear that many SSIs can be avoided by following the latest guidance from the Department of Health and using 2% chlorhexidine with a single patient use applicator such as ChloraPrep.”

The use of 2% chlorhexidine in 70% isopropyl alcohol for pre-operative skin antisepsis is recommended in the Department of Health’s updated High Impact Intervention for the Prevention of Surgical Site Infection (July 2010).

ChloraPrep from CareFusion is currently the only application of 2% chlorhexidine that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has licensed for this purpose.

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