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Minerva Anestesiol. 2004 May;70(5):329-37.

Prevention of nosocomial infection in the ICU setting.

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  • 1Service of Anesthesia and Resuscitation, Luigi Sacco Hospital, Milan, Italy.


The aim of this review is to focus the epidemiology and preventing measures of nosocomial infections that affect the critically ill patients. Most of them (over 80%) are related to the device utilization needed for patient life support but responsible for such complications as ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP), catheter-related bloodstream infections (CRBSI), surgical site infections (SSI) and urinary tract infections (UTI). General recommendations include staff education and use of a surveillance program with a restrictive antibiotic policy. Adequate time must be allowed for hand washing and barrier precautions must always be used during device manipulation. The routine changing of central catheters is not necessary and increases costs; it is necessary to decrease the handling of administration sets, to use a more careful insertion technique and less frequent set replacement. Specific measures for VAP prevention are: 1). use of multi-use, closed-system suction catheters; 2). no routine change of the breathing circuit; 3). lubrication of the the endotracheal tube cuff with a water-soluble gel; 4). maintenance of patient in semi-recumbent position to improve chest physiotherapy. Specific measures for UTI prevention include: 1). use of a catheter-valve instead of a standard drainage system; 2). use of a silver-alloy, hydro gel-coated latex urinary catheter instead of uncoated catheters. By implementing effective preventive measures and maintaining strict surveillance of ICU infections, we hope to affect the associated morbidity, mortality, and cost that our patients and society bare. More clinical trials are needed to verify the efficacy of prevention measures of ICU infections.

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