Hospital privacy curtains ‘contaminated by MRSA’

11th of October 2018
Hospital privacy curtains ‘contaminated by MRSA’

Nearly 90 per cent of privacy curtains could be harbouring MRSA or other infectious bacteria according to research published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

And as a result, scientists at the University of Manitoba in Canada have called for hospital curtains to be regularly cleaned or replaced.

Researchers analysed 10 curtains at the Health Sciences Centre hospital in Winnipeg, all of which had been newly washed at the beginning of the three-week study. Eight were in patient-occupied areas while the remaining two were kept away from patients and health workers.

The scientists tracked contamination levels by swabbing curtains in the areas where they were most commonly touched. After 14 days, seven of the eight curtains in patient rooms showed signs of MRSA and by the end of the three-week period all eight had been contaminated. Meanwhile, the two curtains that had been kept away from patients remained comparatively germ-free.

"We know that privacy curtains pose a high risk of cross-contamination because they are frequently touched but infrequently changed," said the study's lead author Dr Kevin Shek. "The high rate of contamination we saw by the fourteenth day may represent an opportune time to intervene, either by cleaning or replacing the curtains."

None of the patients staying in the test rooms were suffering from MRSA, which meant the bacteria were being transported around the hospital by health workers and visitors.

'Keeping the patient's environment clean is a critical component in preventing healthcare-associated infections,' said Dr Jane Haas, president of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology. "Because privacy curtains could be a mode of disease transmission, maintaining a schedule of regular cleaning offers another potential way to protect patients from harm while they are in our care."


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