Floors in Spotlight in Battle Against Pathogens and illness

Hospital room floors are quickly and frequently contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria within hours of patient admission

December 21, 2020

Healthcare facility managers can’t afford to leave any stone unturned in their efforts to curtail hospital-acquired infections, and a new study suggests one likely source of the problem is right under their noses — well, feet, actually.

Floors in healthcare facilities might be an underappreciated source of pathogen spread, according to Health Facilities Management. The floors of hospital rooms are quickly and frequently contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria within hours of patient admission, creating a route of transfer of potentially dangerous organisms to patients, according to a recent study, “Timing and Route of Contamination of Patient Rooms with Healthcare Associated Pathogens.” The study was published by Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

Researchers with the Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System closely tracked contamination in hospital rooms of 17 newly admitted patients to identify the timing and route of transfer of bacteria within patients’ rooms. Before testing, rooms were thoroughly cleaned and sanitized, and all patients screened negative for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and other health care-associated bacteria.

Researchers then observed patients’ interactions with healthcare personnel and portable equipment, collecting cultures one to three times per day from patients, their socks, beds and other high-touch surfaces, as well as key sections of the floor.

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