Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) is linked to high morbidity and mortality rates especially in hospital intensive care units (ICU’s). VAP is associated with significantly longer hospital stays, increased costs, and as already mentioned, death. Oral chlorhexidine treatment prophylaxis has been known to decrease the occurrence of VAP, but as far as establishing time frames for initiating and durations of therapy, there are not really any publicized. For the purpose of this study, Schlichting and colleagues wanted to see if early administration of oral chlorhexidine is associated with lower incidences of early ventilator-associated pneumonia, established as occurring within five days of ICU admission.
The researchers performed a single-center retrospective cohrt study of intubated adults from July 2011-April 2013. Early administration of the drug was defined as being administered within 6 hours of arrival at the ICU. The study included 134 patients. Among them, 49% were treated with chlorhexidine before 6 hours, 84% were treated before 12 hours, and 11% were treated for early pneumonia. Early chlorhexidine (before 6 hours) was not associated (P = .21) with early pneumonia. Furthermore, median times to chlorhexidine did not differ significantly (P = .23) between patients in whom pneumonia developed (5.2 hours) and patients with no pneumonia (6.1 hours).
Analyzing the data,this research team was able to show that there was no significant difference between early administration of oral chlorhexidine in intubated patients and reduction in the occurrence of ventilator-associated pneumonia.