Intensive Care Medicine

, Volume 33, Issue 6, pp 1066–1070

Oral care practices in intensive care units: a survey of 59 European ICUs

  • Jordi Rello
  • Despoina Koulenti
  • Stijn Blot
  • Rafael Sierra
  • Emili Diaz
  • Jan J. De Waele
  • Antonio Macor
  • Kemal Agbaht
  • Alejandro Rodriguez
Brief Report

DOI: 10.1007/s00134-007-0605-3

Cite this article as:
Rello, J., Koulenti, D., Blot, S. et al. Intensive Care Med (2007) 33: 1066. doi:10.1007/s00134-007-0605-3

Abstract

Objective

To explore the type and frequency of oral care practices in European ICUs and the attitudes, beliefs, and knowledge of health care workers.

Design

An anonymous questionnaire was distributed to representatives of European ICUs. Results were obtained from 59 ICUs (one questionnaire per ICU) in seven countries 91% of respondents were registered nurses.

Measurements and results

Of the respondents 77% reported that they had received adequate training on providing oral care; most (93%) also expressed the desire to learn more about oral care. Oral care was perceived to be high priority in mechanically ventilated patients (88%). Cleaning the oral cavity was considered difficult by 68%, and unpleasant as well as difficult by 32%. In 37% of cases respondents felt that despite their efforts oral health worsens over time in intubated patients. Oral care practices are carried out once daily (20%), twice (31%) or three times (37%). Oral care consists principally of mouth washes (88%), mostly performed with chlorhexidine (61%). Foam swabs (22%) and moisture agents (42%) are used less frequently as well as manual toothbrushes (41%) although the literature indicates that these are more effective for thorough cleaning of the oral cavity. Electric toothbrushes were never used.

Conclusions

In European ICUs oral care is considered very important. It is experienced as a task that is difficult to perform, and that does not necessarily succeed in ensuring oral health in patients with prolonged intubation. Oral care consists primarily of mouth washes. The use of toothbrushes should be given more attention.

Keywords

Key words Oral care Mouth wash Prevention Intensive care unit Pneumonia 

Supplementary material

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jordi Rello
    • 1
  • Despoina Koulenti
    • 2
  • Stijn Blot
    • 3
  • Rafael Sierra
    • 4
  • Emili Diaz
    • 1
  • Jan J. De Waele
    • 3
  • Antonio Macor
    • 5
  • Kemal Agbaht
    • 6
  • Alejandro Rodriguez
    • 1
  1. 1.Critical Care DepartmentJoan XXIII University HospitalTarragonaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Critical Care Medicine, Attikon University Hospital, Medical SchoolAthens UniversityAthensGreece
  3. 3.Intensive Care DepartmentGhent University HospitalGhentBelgium
  4. 4.Intensive Care UnitPuerta del Mar University HospitalCadizSpain
  5. 5.Preven, Rischio InfettivoA. di Savoia Hospital, ASL3TurinItaly
  6. 6.Intensive Care UnitHacettepe UniversityAnkaraTurkey

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