The hospital environment is well recognized as an increasingly important source of healthcare-associated infection; yet the environment in which the patient spends the most time, the hospital bed and pillow, are often overlooked when it comes to finding the source, according to an article on the Infection Control Today website.
Promise Hospital in San Diego recently investigated whether the reusable vinyl covered pillows in its patient rooms were contaminated with pathogens after environmental services disinfection processes.
Over a five-week period, swab cultures (n=100) were obtained from reusable vinyl covered pillows to determine if pathogens remained on the pillow post environmental services disinfection with a commonly used quaternary ammonium solution, the article said.
Promise found that the patient-ready, decontaminated reusable vinyl covered pillows in use at the hospital were contaminated with pathogenic bacteria. Thirty eight (38 percent) of the 100 disinfected patient ready pillows cultured were contaminated with infection causing pathogens including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE), Enterococcus faecalis (E faecalis), Escherichia coli (E coli), Providencia stuartii (P stuartii), Yeast, Coagulase-negative Staphylococci (CNS), Klebsiella pneumoniae (K pneumoniae), Bacillus species, Gram-positive Cocci and Diptheroids (95 percent CI, P < .016). Three pillows were found to harbor more than three pathogens on each pillow and 15 pillows had more than two pathogens on each pillow, according to the article.
Reusable patient pillows pose a cross-contamination risk, the article said. Variability in disinfection technique, pillow condition, and the effectiveness of disinfectant make it difficult to completely disinfect the pillow. Cross-contamination may occur from pillow to patient, from pillow to healthcare worker to patient, and from patient to pillow.
Read the article.