Updated Guidelines for Patient Bathing Released

Using a basin, soap and water to bathe bed-bound hospitalized patients is no longer the recommended standard of practice, according to an American Association of Critical-Care Nurses Practice Alert.

The AACN released updated protocols for bathing adult patients based on studies showing prepackaged cleansers as superior cleaning agents. Instead of soap and water, AACN recommends bathing patients with chlorhexidine gluconate, which has been shown to significantly reduce certain bacteria and infections, according to the alert.


Here are the new patient bathing guidelines:

•    Provide a daily bath for bed-bound patients to improve hygiene and promote comfort.
•    Determine bath time based on patient preference and clinical stability rather than organizational factors.
•    Use disposable basins and dispose of them after one use to reduce risk of bacterial contamination.
•    Avoid use of unfiltered tap water. Alternatives include prepackaged bathing products, sterile or distilled water or filtered water from faucets.
•    Use no-rinse pH balanced cleansers, which are superior to alkaline soaps that require wash-rinse cycles.
•    Apply emollients after each non-prepackaged bath to prevent dry skin.
•    Use prepackaged bathing products to reduce process variation.
•    Bathe patients daily using a disposable cloth that is prepackaged with a 2 percent solution of chlorhexidine gluconate. 

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