Critical Care Nurses' Organization Updates Patient Bathing Practices

American Nurse, July/August 2013 | Go to article overview

Critical Care Nurses' Organization Updates Patient Bathing Practices


AT THE BEDSIDE

The long-held tradition of using a basin, soap and water to bathe bed-bound hospitalized patients is no longer the recommended standard of practice, according to the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN), an organizational affiliate of the American Nurses Association.

A new AACN Practice Alert outlines updated, evidence-based protocols related to bathing adult patients.

In most acute care facilities, bedbound patients unable to provide self-care are bathed by nursing personnel using a basin of warm tap water, soap and washcloths. This traditional method of bathing can result in significant variation from caregiver to caregiver; excessively dry skin on patients; and exposure to bacteria, increasing the risk of health care-associated infection. Such baths also take longer and require more nursing time.

The AACN alert cites several studies that demonstrate how bathing patients with prepackaged cleansers that don't require rinsing offers several improvements to traditional methods. AACN continues to advocate for daily bathing to improve hygiene and promote patient comfort.

"Current evidence tells us that even such a routine activity as bathing a bed-bound patient needs to be updated to reduce the risk and increase the benefit to the patient," said AACN Senior Director Ramón Lavandera, MSN, MA, RN, FAAN, also a Guam Nurses Association member. …

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