Hand hygiene as vital for patients as for nurses

9th of May 2019
Hand hygiene as vital for patients as for nurses

Better hand hygiene among hospital patients is crucial to curb the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria - according to latest research from the USA.

A study from the University of Michigan (UoM), published this month in Clinical Infectious Diseases, found that almost a third (29 per cent) of objects that patients commonly touch - such as nurse call buttons, bedside trays and other ‘high touch' surfaces in patients' hospital rooms - were contaminated with a multi-drug resistant organism.

The research team visited the rooms of 399 general medicine inpatients at two hospitals in Michigan and took samples from their bodies and often-touched surfaces as early as possible in their stay.

Fourteen per cent had multi-drug resistant organisms on their hands or nostrils during the early part of their time in hospital.

UoM lead researcher Lona Mody said: "Hand hygiene narrative has largely focused on physicians, nurses and other front-line staff, and all the policies and performance measurements have centred on them, and rightfully so.

"But our findings make an argument for addressing transmission of multi-drug resistant organisms in a way that also involves patients."

The researchers found that of the six patients in the study who developed an infection with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) while in hospital, all had positive tests for MRSA on their hands and hospital room surfaces.

Using genetic fingerprinting techniques, the researchers examined whether the strains of MRSA bacteria on the patients' hands were the same as the ones found in their rooms. They discovered that the two matched in nearly all cases - suggesting that transfer to and from the patient was occurring.

A separate study examining multi-drug resistant organisms in skilled nursing facilities by the same team found that privacy curtains - often used to separate patients on a ward or to shield patients from view when dressing or being examined - are often colonised with superbugs.



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