Oral care and the risk of bloodstream infections in mechanically ventilated adults: A review

Deborah J. Jones, Cindy L. Munro

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Rationale: Bacteraemia, defined as the presence of viable bacteria in the circulating blood can result in bloodstream infection, which is one of the most frequent and challenging hospital-acquired infections. Bacteraemia occurs in healthy populations with manipulation of the oral mucosa, including toothbrushing. Oral care is commonly administered to mechanically ventilated patients, it is important to determine whether this practice contributes to the incidence of bacteraemia. This paper reviews the literature on the link between the manipulation of the oral cavity and the development of bacteraemia in mechanically ventilated adults. Methods: Searches were conducted using Medline, CINAHL, and the Cochrane Library databases. Article inclusion criteria were (1) a focus on mechanical ventilation and critical illness, (2) human subjects, (3) adult subjects, and (4) publication in English (or available English translation). Results: Nine articles met inclusion criteria and were critiqued. All relied upon clinical data as outcome measures; many were retrospective. The three organisms most often associated with nosocomial bloodstream infections were Staphylococcus aureus, coagulase negative staphylococci, and Enterococcus species. Establishing the origin of bacteraemia was problematic in most studies. Conclusions: Additional research is needed to understand the relationship of oral care practices to bacteraemia in mechanically ventilated adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)152-161
Number of pages10
JournalIntensive and Critical Care Nursing
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Bacteraemia
  • Bloodstream infections
  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Oral care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care


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