The American Journal of Infection Control recently published a report that confirms, “Hospital room floors may be more of a ‘superbug’ threat than many hospital staffers realize.”
Dr. Abhishek Deshpande, the lead researcher from the Cleveland Clinic, said, “Efforts to improve disinfection in the hospital environment usually focus on surfaces that are frequently touched by the hands of healthcare workers or patients. Although health care facility floors are often heavily contaminated, limited attention has been paid to disinfection of floors because they are not frequently touched.”
Items in patients’ rooms often come in contact with the floor, which only leads to transferring of multi-drug resistant bacteria to the hands, clothing, call buttons, medical devices, linens and medical supplies.
In the study conducted by the Cleveland Clinic, they took samples from 159 patient rooms in five Cleveland area hospitals and found that many were contaminated with infection-causing bacteria, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, more commonly referred to as MRSA, vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), and Clostridium difficile.
The researchers also found that 41 percent of patient-occupied rooms had one or more high-touch objects in contact with the floor, including personal items, medical devices, and other supplies. MRSA, VRE, and C. difficile were found on 18 percent, 6 percent, and 3 percent respectively.
Floors may not be the only place that could be overlooked in hospitals and medical facilities when it comes to “superbugs.” A study published by the Applied and Environmental Microbiology found that germs colonize in drainpipes and can make their way into sinks. Once there they can spread to hospital staffers’ hands and clothing. You can guess who it transfers to next.
What should be done?
Hospital facilities, linens, and floors should be held to the highest standards internally as well as oversight by state and federal regulatory agencies.
A close examination of cleaning, handling, delivery, and storage of linens should be required and a protocol established and managed without exception.