Infections induced by hospital curtain germs, study suggests

A study found 92 percent of hospital privacy curtains contained bacteria.

Despite all the hand washing you see going on in hospitals, a new study shows it's being countered by dirty surfaces not part of the daily cleaning routine.

According to a PR Web release, University of Iowa medical researchers monitored a sample of hospital privacy curtains and found 92 percent contained dangerous bacteria, like MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and VRE (vancomycin-resistant enterococcus).

The Centers for Disease Control report that one in 20 patients develop infections during an overnight stay at the hospital. Because the curtains are changed less frequently but are still in constant contact with workers' hands, the findings give insight into how contaminated surfaces strongly contribute to healthcare-associated infections (HAI).

"It's estimated that U.S. hospitals see over 1.7 million HAIs each year at a cost of $16,000 to $19,000 per patient, or up to $45 billion a year," said Bill O'Neill, VP of Infection Control Applications at PurThread Technologies, in the release. "While many of these HAIs are a result of catheters and ventilators, this study from the University of Iowa contributes to mounting evidence showing that surfaces in hospitals may be a source of contamination for healthcare worker hands after hand hygiene."

The researchers say hospital workers should always wash their hands before touching a patient and invest in antimicrobial products that can be used on soft and hard surfaces between laundering.

Does it surprise you that some hospital surfaces aren't being sanitized daily? Weigh in below.

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Hospital privacy curtains are frequently and rapidly contaminated with potentially pathogenic bacteria