Surfaces often touched by health care workers during routine patient care are commonly contaminated and may be a source of nosocomial infection (infections that originate or occur in a hospital).
A study published in the American Journal of Infection Control by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine found that 48% of hospital rooms where infected patients previously stayed were contaminated with multi-drug resistant bacteria, Acinetobacter baumannii (MDR-AB). The bacteria cause bacteremia, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and other medical conditions in sick immunosuppressed patients and sometimes in wounded patients. Ten surfaces in each room was sampled and evaluated for A. baumannii. The study showed that supply carts (20 percent), hospital room floors (16 percent), infusion pumps (14 percent), ventilator touch pads (11.4 percent), and bedrails (10.2 percent) were contaminated and 85 percent of environmental cultures matched the bacterial strain in patient rooms. The gram-positive bacteria are difficult to eradicate because they remain on the surfaces for long periods.
The study authors concluded, “For patients with MDR-AB, the surrounding environment is frequently contaminated, even among patients with a remote history of MDR-AB. Surfaces often touched by health care workers during routine patient care are commonly contaminated and may be a source of nosocomial spread.” You can read about the study here and here.