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May 2017

Although high-touch surfaces (e.g. bed rails and call buttons) are regularly disinfected by hospital workers, a study recently published in the American Journal of Infection Control shows that hospital floors may be an overlooked source of infection transmission.

The study investigated the spread of C. difficile, MRSA, and VRE in 5 Cleveland-area hospitals via fomites.

The study showed that Clostridium difficile isolation (CDI) room floors had significantly higher incidence of MRSA and VRE contamination than non-CDI room floors. As expected, rooms swabbed after post-discharge cleaning had less MRSA and VRE contamination. However, 53% of post-discharge cleaning rooms showed the presence of C. difficile, more than was detected before post-discharge cleaning.

Additionally, 41% of rooms had at least one high-touch object in contact with the floor. The researchers subsequently touched various high-touch surfaces/objects that had been in direct contact with the floor. Their hands and gloves became contaminated with MRSA, VRE, and C. difficile 18%, 6%, and 3% of the time, respectively. The objects were only handled once prior to hand analysis, suggesting high transmission rates of pathogens from contaminated floors to hands.

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