Hospital Room Floors May be Unrecognized Pathogen Dissemination Source

HealthDay News — Hospital room floors may be more of an infection threat than many hospital staffers realize, according to a study published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

Researchers took samples from the floors of 159 patient rooms in 5 Cleveland-area hospitals and found that many were contaminated with health care-associated pathogens, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), and Clostridium difficile.

The researchers also found that 41% of patient-occupied rooms had one or more “high-touch” objects in contact with the floor, including personal items, medical devices, and medical supplies. MRSA, VRE and C difficile were found on 18%, 6%, and 3%, respectively, of bare or gloved hands that handled the items.

“We found that floors in patient rooms were frequently contaminated with health care-associated pathogens and demonstrated the potential for indirect transfer of pathogens to hands from fomites placed on the floor,” the authors write. “Further studies are needed to investigate the potential for contaminated hospital floors to contribute to pathogen transmission.”

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Deshpande A, Cadnum JL, Fertelli D, et al. Are hospital floors an underappreciated reservoir for transmission of health care-associated pathogens? Am J Infect Control. 2017;45:336-338. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2016.11.005