Basinless Bathing- Back to basics

Ellen Burke1

1Tasmanian Health Service, Hobart, Australia


Bathing is a common practice within the healthcare setting but is this daily task causing more harm than good for our already vulnerable patients? Could these bed baths be contributing to an increase in the rates of Hospital Acquired Infections (HAI’s) specifically in the Intensive Care Unit? Ongoing studies and published literature indicate that daily bathing with Chlorhexidine impregnated washcloths and the elimination of wash basins can reduce the colonisation of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus in the Intensive Care environment, which can cost the healthcare system $61,390 per patient acquisition.

Basinless bathing started out as a Quality improvement project within the Intensive Care Unit, with a trial period of 6 months. There were hurdles, pushback and lots of inappropriate items used to mimic a basin. But with passion, I persisted, I educated, and I coached the ICU team along. Keeping them informed of our progress along the way and highlighting the improved patient outcomes we were seeing due to a significant practice change.  In a period of 12 months, the ICU have significantly decreased the acquisition of Hospital Acquired infections, which has reduced patients length of hospital stay and health complications associated with HAI, whilst also saving the healthcare system approximately $2,025,870 in 1 year alone.


I am a registered nurse of 11 years, with 10 years experience in the Critical Care environment. I hold a Masters in Critical Care Nursing and have a passion for research and implementing evidence based practice and improving patient experience and outcomes.