Implementing daily chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) bathing in VA settings: The human factors engineering to prevent resistant organisms (HERO) project

Mary Jo Knobloch, Jackson S. Musuuza, Linda McKinley, Michele L. Zimbric, Kelsey Baubie, Ann Schoofs Hundt, Pascale Carayon, Mary Hagle, Christopher D. Pfeiffer, Marinella D. Galea, Christopher J. Crnich, Nasia Safdar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Daily use of chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) has been shown to reduce risk of healthcare-associated infections. We aimed to assess moving CHG bathing into routine practice using a human factors approach. We evaluated implementation in non-intensive care unit (ICU) settings in the Veterans Health Administration. Methods: Our multiple case study approach included non-ICU units from 4 Veterans Health Administration settings. Guided by the Systems Engineering Initiative for Patient Safety, we conducted focus groups and interviews to capture barriers and facilitators to daily CHG bathing. We measured compliance using observations and skin CHG concentrations. Results: Barriers to daily CHG include time, concern of increasing antibiotic resistance, workflow and product concerns. Facilitators include engagement of champions and unit shared responsibility. We found shortfalls in patient education, hand hygiene and CHG use on tubes and drains. CHG skin concentration levels were highest among patients from spinal cord injury units. These units applied antiseptic using 2% CHG impregnated wipes vs 4% CHG solution/soap. Discussion: Non-ICUs implementing CHG bathing must consider human factors and work system barriers to ensure uptake and sustained practice change. Conclusions: Well-planned rollouts and a unit culture promoting shared responsibility are key to compliance with daily CHG bathing. Successful implementation requires attention to staff education and measurement of compliance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)775-783
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Infection Control
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Case study
  • Champions
  • Contextual factors
  • Organizational culture
  • Quality improvement
  • Systems engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Implementing daily chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) bathing in VA settings: The human factors engineering to prevent resistant organisms (HERO) project'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this