All ICUs should have a unit-driven oral hygiene protocol for nonintubated critically ill patients, according to researchers publishing in the August issue of Anesthesiology News. 

Researchers said that little attention is paid to oral care in nonintubated critically ill patients and the role that might play in preventing complications associated with securing the airway emergently.

Researchers discussed a case study of a nonintubated ICU patient who was found to have a large, inspissated mass of mucus/saliva measuring 3 inches long and 1.25 inches wide, a complication they believe could have been avoided with the proper oral hygiene  protocols.

They recommended the protocol include periodic oral hydration with mouth swabs, avoidance of unnecessary NPO, and periodic suctioning.