Drug-resistant bacteria lingers in 48% of patient rooms

Experts call for enhanced cleaning efforts

Topics: Infection Control, Quality, Performance Improvement, Quality and Service, Operations Skills, Skill Development, Workforce

November 3, 2011

A recent study found that a multi-drug resistant bacteria lingered on surfaces in nearly 50% of hospital rooms where infected patients stayed.

For the study—which was published in the American Journal of Infection ControlUniversity of Maryland School of Medicine researchers took samples of 10 surfaces in 50 hospital rooms used by patients who had a recent or remote history of multi-drug resistant Acinetobacter baumannii (MDR-AB) between October 2008 and January 2009.

MDR-AB typically infects patients who already are ill, immo-suppressed, or severely wounded. The bacteria may lead to bacteremia, pneumonia, secondary meningitis, and urinary tract infections, among other conditions.

The researchers found MDR-AB on at least one surface in about 48% of the hospital rooms. Eighty-five percent of the environmental cultures matched the type of bacteria that had infected the patient occupying the room, the study found.

According to the study, the most commonly infected items included:

  • Supply carts (20%);
  • Hospital room floors (16%);
  • Infusion pumps (14%);
  • Ventilator touch pads (11.4%); and
  • Bedrails (10.2%).

"What looks clean might actually be contaminated," said Russell Olmsted, president of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), explaining that MDR-AB is a "tough bug" that can survive for prolonged periods of time. He encouraged hospitals to enhance cleaning practices to reduce the risk of spreading health care-acquired infections (APIC release, 11/1; Aleccia, "Vitals," MSNBC, 11/1; Chan, Huffington Post, 11/1; Preidt, HealthDay, 11/2).

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