The Effect of Two Bed Bath Practices in Cost and Vital Signs of Critically Ill Patients (2021)

Author: Tai C-H, Hsieh T-C, Lee R-P

This study was carried out in a medical intensive care unit comparing traditional soap and water with disposable wipes for bathing bed bound patients. This was an experimental study that compared the cost, staff satisfaction, and effects of the two different bed-bathing methods on critically ill patients’ vital signs. Although they were no significant differences on the patient’s vital signs the authors concluded that the use of disposable wipes for bed baths can reduce the duration, total cost and improve the nursing staff’s satisfaction.

Key findings:

  • Personal hygiene can decrease the risk of infection and help maintain skin integrity in critically ill patients.
  • Previous research has shown that both the practices of bed bathing with soap and water or disposable wipes are equally effective at removing dirt, oil and microorganisms.
  • Bed baths can help to maintain skin integrity, remove dirt and microbes present on the skin’s surface, decrease the risk of infection and increase patient comfort.
  • There is a growing problem with sinks in critical units found to be contaminated with multidrug-resistant organisms with some published papers suggesting up to 98% of sink are contaminated prompting some units to move away from the use of water for bathing.
  • Some authors have suggested that the bed-bathing process may create stress or anxiety for the patients.
  • As these critical care patients were unable to report their levels of stress and anxiety this was measured with assessment of their vital signs before and after the bed bathing process.
  • There were no significant differences in the vital sign trends between the two groups.
  • The results showed the average time for bed baths using disposable wipes was 23.8 minutes and the average time using soap and water was 34.4 minutes and therefore significantly shorter duration using disposable wipes.
  • The consumable costs were higher using disposable wipes but the nursing time and laundry costs using soap and water saw the overall cost lower using disposable wipes.
  • When the nursing staff were surveyed, they expressed greater satisfaction with using disposable wipes to for bed bathing their patients.


bed bathing

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