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Archive August 2019 XX, No. 8

Pre-operative Planner: Pre-surgical Baths in the Battle Against SSIs

Training your staff - and your patients - to perform CHG baths.

Denice Morrison

Denice Morrison, RN, MSN, CNOR


North Kansas City (Mo.) Hospital
DUSK AND DAWN Patients should take a CHG bath the night before and the morning of surgery.

The best defense for battling surgical site infections is a good offense. And part of a good offensive game plan is to make sure your OR nurses understand the importance of the chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) bath in fighting SSIs.

Pre-surgical baths using an antibacterial product have proven to decrease SSIs. We have a protocol that patients have a CHG bath the night before surgery, then again on the morning of surgery. When we see our outpatients in a pre-surgery clinic, we educate them on how to perform the CHG bath at home. While we’re proud of our low infection rates, we continue to prioritize inpatient baths, as well as the accurate and consistent documentation of those baths.

Chart the course

To do that, we conducted a study to find out if educating our nurses and techs on pre-surgical baths impacted compliance with completion and proper documentation of a CHG bath for inpatients.

Experienced med-surg nurses who transitioned to the operative environment noted CHG bathing was sometimes less of a focus in their prior practice. These nurses believed that educating their peers could increase CHG bathing rates.

To initiate the process, the first thing we did was chart reviews. This let us measure our compliance for the documentation of the pre-surgical baths. We also wanted to ensure the nurses understood the importance of performing and documenting the pre-surgical bath.

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