Oral hygiene in seriously ill patients is a nursing responsibility. Oral hygiene regimens in conjunction with standardized ventilator-associated pneumonia “bundles” reduce the incidence of pneumonia, length of stay, and associated costs in critical care. Following strict adherence to the recommended ventilator-associated pneumonia bundle, the ventilator-associated pneumonia rate at the Northeast Baptist Hospital intensive care units has remained 0% for 36 months. Oral care in this patient population, however, has remained vague based on ritual and nurse preference. This article describes the development of an oral care protocol based on best evidence, providing a rationale for standardization of oral hygiene and the plan for surveillance and updating.
Northeast Baptist Hospital Intensive Care Units (Mss Browne, Evans, Christmas). Baptist School Health Professions and University of Texas Health Science Center (Ms Browne), Southeast Baptist Hospital (Ms Evans), St Phillips College (Ms Christmas) and Department of Infection Control (Ms Rodriguez), San Antonio, Texas.
Correspondance: Jennifer A. Browne, RN, MSN, CCRN, Surgical/Medical ICU, Northeast Baptist Hospital, 8811 Village Drive, San Antonio, TX 78217 (JABrowne@baptisthealthsystem.com)
The authors wish to thank Dr Leonard E. Deal for his valuable advice that helped guide this project.