A nurse researcher Phd at the Salem VA Medical Center is on the cutting edge of research demonstrating that brushing the teeth of patients twice a day can remove dangerous biofilm and prevent bacteria from spreading to their lungs and causing pneumonia.
Dr. Shannon Munro found that about 70% of the time oral hygiene wasn’t being provided and a great many patients were developing hospital acquired pneumonia. She tested her low tech solution in the VA’s Community Living Center.
"We started providing oral hygiene because that was the intervention that was low cost, easy to implement and had the most impact on patient care."
Sometimes, she said, the smallest things have the greatest impact.
"The germs multiply five times every 24 hours so we’re talking about billions of germs."
The results among many of the oldest and sickest patients, Munro noted, were dramatic.
"We’ve had a decrease of 92% from our baseline and we’ve saved now over two million dollars."