Oral Care May Prevent Hospital-Acquired Pneumonia Spread

October 21, 2020
Kevin Kunzmann

New data show ADA-recommended oral care for inpatients is associated with an 85% reduction in NVHAP infections at an 800-bed medical center over a year.

Improved and consistent oral care in medical care settings may be key to reducing spread of non-ventilator hospital-acquired pneumonia (NVHAP) in facilities, according to new research.

In data presented at IDWeek 2020, a team of investigators reported a 85% associated reduction in NVHAP infection in an 800-bed tertiary medical center through 12 months among patients given American Dental Association (ADA)-protocol oral care from nurses and nursing assistants, versus those provided standard care.

The findings, presented by Karen Giuliano, PhD, associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, complements growing evidence that both medical and surgical patients could be at reduced risk of NVHAP—the most common hospital-acquired infection—through simple efforts to reduce mouth-based germs.

In an interview with Contagion® during IDWeek, Giuliano, a former critical care nurse, explained the common perception that routine oral treatment for a patient is a comfort care, not clinical. No part of education nor training emphasizes potential therapeutic and preventive potential with oral care.

“But if you really think about oral care as possibly one of the most modifiable risk factors for NVHAP prevention, then it really is elevated from comfort care to therapeutic,” she said. “The problem is we don’t have a lot of good empiric data to support that it works.”

Ergo, her team’s research.

Listen to the full interview with Giuliano in the video above.

The study, “Enhanced Oral Care as Prevention for Non-ventilator Hospital Acquired Pneumonia,” was presented at IDWeek 2020.