Dangerous bacteria capable of causing serious infections can frequently spread from patients in intensive care units (ICUs) to nurses' scrubs and the environment, a new study warned.
The study, conducted at Duke University Hospital, included a total of 167 ICU patients who received health care from forty nurses during 120 twelve-hour shifts.
The researchers took cultures from the sleeves, pockets and midriffs of the nurses' scrubs before and after every shift. They also tested the environment, including bed rails and medical supply carts.
The ICUs were cleaned daily, but they found confirmed transmission of bacteria during 22 shifts (18 per cent of the total shifts). The pockets and sleeves of the nurses' scrubs were found to be contaminated 10 per cent of the time, while the environment showed contamination 8 per cent of the time.
Dr. Deverick Anderson, who led the study, said, "Healthcare workers really need to be aware that not only can they become contaminated from dealing with their patients, but simply going into the hospital room poses a risk as well. So we really have to emphasize the importance of our basic infection control practices, like hand hygiene."
They found at least seven types of bacteria transmitted, including Acinetobacter baumannii, Klebsiella pneumonia, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
The study, highlighting the complexity of bacterial transmission and the need to introduce stronger hospital infection control practices, was presented yesterday at IDWeek 2016, a meeting of multiple organizations focused on infectious diseases.