ANCHOR LEAD: IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE WHICH SURGICAL SCRUB IS USED PRIOR TO SURGERY, ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS
Using a chemical called chlorhexidine to disinfect the incision area prior to surgery significantly reduces the likelihood that an infection will occur, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine found. Julie Frieschlag, head of the department of surgery at Johns Hopkins, concurs.
FREISCHLAG: We switched to chlorhexidine a few years ago, knowing that it appeared to have greater efficacy to prevent surgical site infections. So we use that in all patients where it’s appropriate and that’s almost all our patients, but it is not for patients who have open wounds, or patients where the incision goes by your mouth or your ears or open orifices. So it’s mainly just for the routine elective case that we use the chlorhexidine. We have seen that it does lower the incidence of our surgical site infections. :30
Previously, iodine was used to scrub but doesn’t work as well. Frieschlag says patients should ask about using chlorhexidine. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.