Privacy curtains in hospitals may pose threat of resistant bugs

Privacy curtains in hospitals may pose threat of resistant bugs

Patient privacy curtains around hospital beds can be a source of multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs), reveals study conducted by researchers at the University of Michighan. The research was presented at the 2019 annual European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.

The researchers looked at the prevalence of curtains contaminated with MDROs in skilled nursing facilitIies (SNF) and hospitals.

The study cultured bacterial samples obtained from several sites on each patient’s body, as well as from highly touched surfaces in the patient’s rooms, including the privacy curtains.Samples were taken upon admission, and alternatively after 14 days, 30 days and then monthly up to six months.

The researchers examined upto 1,521 samples obtained from 625 specialist wards between 2013 to 2016.

A total of 334 (22%) cultures taken from privacy curtains tested positive for MDROs, with contamination rates varying from 11.9% to 28.5% across the different facilities. Of these cultures arxound 13.8% were contaminated with vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE); 6.2% with resistant gram-negative bacilli; and 74 (4.9%) with methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

The authors found that in 15.7% of sampling visits, patients and their privacy curtains were concurrently colonized with the same MDRO.

“We know that curtains are touched by many, many people working in health care as well as by patients and visitors,…so it would be difficult to tell which came first: the contamination of the curtains or the colonization of the patients”, said Lona Mody, MD, M Sc, the associate chief of the Division of Geriatric and Palliative Care Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical Center, in Ann Arbor.

“We were surprised to see that MDROs, especially VRE, shed by patients routinely contaminate their privacy curtains,” said the researchers in a statement, calling this a global issue.

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