A fresh look at preoperative body washing

Tanner, Judith; Gould, Dinah; Jenkins, Philip; Hilliam, Rachel; Mistry, Neetesh and Walsh, Susannah (2012). A fresh look at preoperative body washing. Journal of Infection Prevention, 13(1) pp. 11–15.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1757177411428095

Abstract

National guidelines do not support preoperative body washing to reduce surgical site infections, instead recommending bathing or showering with soap. Yet preoperative body washing continues to be widely used in many hospitals across Europe. This paper suggests that existing trials of preoperative body washing, upon which guidelines are based, are dated and proposes a new investigation of preoperative body washing using modern definitions of surgical site infection with standardised patient follow up, modern surgical techniques and well designed trials. This paper provides a critique of existing guidelines and describes a randomised trial with 60 participants to compare the effect of soap and two antiseptic washing products on colony forming units (CFUs) for up to six hours. Chlorhexidine gluconate and octenidine were significantly more effective than soap in reducing CFUs in the underarm, and chlorhexidine was significantly more effective than soap in reducing CFUs in the groin.

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