Chlorhexidine gluconate has been considered the criterion standard of oral care for patients receiving mechanical ventilation because of its ability to reduce the incidence of ventilator-associated events. Optimal concentrations and frequencies remain unclear, as do adverse events related to mortality in various intensive care unit populations.


To examine the current evidence for the efficacy of chlorhexidine gluconate in reducing the incidence of ventilator-associated events, mortality, intensive care unit length of stay, and duration of mechanical ventilation in patients receiving ventilator support.


In this integrative review, CINAHL (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature), MEDLINE, and Health Source: Nursing/Academic Edition were searched using terms related to mechanical ventilation and chlorhexidine gluconate oral care with dates ranging from 2012 to 2023.


Seventeen articles were included in this review: 8 systematic reviews, 8 randomized clinical trials (3 of which were not included in any systematic review), and 1 quasi-experimental study. Chlorhexidine gluconate oral care was associated with a reduced incidence of ventilator-associated events, but efficacy depended on concentration and frequency of administration. With stratification by intensive care unit population type, a nonsignificant trend toward increased mortality was found among non–cardiac surgical patients who received this care.


The evidence regarding the efficacy of chlorhexidine gluconate oral care in reducing ventilator-associated events in specific intensive care unit populations is contradictory. Recently published guidelines recommend de-implementation of chlorhexidine gluconate oral care in all patients receiving mechanical ventilation. Such care may be beneficial only in the cardiac surgical population.

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