Hand washing in multi-bed wards 'more critical' than in single rooms

26th of May 2015
Hand washing in multi-bed wards 'more critical' than in single rooms

Hand washing in multi-bed hospital wards is even more critical than previously thought, according to research.

A study carried out by University of Leeds' Institute of Public Health and Environmental Engineering in the UK found that multi-bed wards were more likely to have contaminated surfaces than single hospital rooms. This increased the risk of infections being spread by clinicians working in these areas.

Researcher Dr Marco-Felipe King, who carried out the study, analysed fluid flows to ascertain the way in which infectious particles released into the air settled on to a range of surfaces in various types of hospital wards.

Using a mathematical model based on staff touching these surfaces, King determined how easy it would be for clinicians and other workers to contaminate their hands with pathogens.

The study found that more than twice as many infectious particles were likely to be passed on to patients in a four-bed ward compared with the same number in a single-bed setting, even when hand hygiene remained at the same level.

Professor Cath Noakes who led the research said: "We found the multi-bed wards posed a greater risk because there was a higher likelihood that surfaces would be contaminated - even in areas that were quite a distance away from already infected patients - and that these would be passed on to medics' hands.

"The message is that hand washing and cleaning is hugely important in all hospital wards, but it is even more critical in multi-bed wards where infectious particles may be present on surfaces that medics may not expect to be contaminated."



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