BACKGROUND: There are two types of bed baths: the traditional basin used with soap and water, and the disposable bath, which is prepacked in single-use units and heated before use.
OBJECTIVE: To compare the traditional basin bed bath to a disposable bed bath, there are four factors that need to be considered: (1) duration and quality of the bath, (2) cost, (3) nurse satisfaction and (4) patient satisfaction.
METHODS: Fifty-eight patients received bed baths on two consecutive days - a traditional bed bath on 1 day and a disposable bed bath on the other. The patients were bathed by the same nurse on both days. The baths were observed in relation to duration, use of supplies and quality. Nurses and patients were interviewed about their preferences.
RESULTS: Both types of baths scored very highly in the area of quality. There was no difference in the cost of supplies. Significantly less time was used with the disposable baths (p < 0.001). In terms of total expenditure, the disposable bath cost 11.84 DKK and the basin method cost 11.87 DKK, resulting in an insignificant difference (p > 0.05). Taking the nurses salaries into account, it was much cheaper to bathe patients using the disposable bath. Most patients preferred the disposable bath, while others preferred the basin method or were equally satisfied with both types of baths. There was no significant difference in these results (p > 0.22). There were 46 cases during the trial where nurses preferred the disposable bath method. The washbasin method was preferred in six cases. And there was one case where the nurse was equally satisfied with both types of baths. The nurses rated the disposable bath significantly higher than the basin method. In most cases, patients and nurses preferred the same type of bath (70%).
CONCLUSION: This study presents a comparison of the new method of bed bathing to the traditional basin method, in relation to cost, duration, quality and nurse and patient preference. In the case of disposable baths, the costs are lower as significantly less time is used. The nurses were very clear in their preference for disposable baths, and this was also the case for the majority of patients. There was consistency between the nurses and the patients in terms of their preference of bath type. When patients need assistance with personal hygiene, the nurse should inform the patient about the two methods and involve the patient in the decision.