Session: Poster Session: Nosocomial Infections and the Environment
Tuesday, October 28, 2008: 12:00 AM
Room: Hall C
Background. Recent studies suggest that contaminated environmental surfaces may play an important role in transmission of healthcare-associated pathogens. Hospital privacy curtains around patients’ beds could provide a source for transmission of pathogens because they are commonly touched by patients and healthcare workers and they are cleaned or changed infrequently. Methods. We performed a point-prevalence culture survey to examine the frequency of contamination of hospital privacy curtains with healthcare-associated pathogens, including vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and Clostridium difficile. We compared the frequency of MRSA contamination of curtains in MRSA isolation versus non-isolation rooms and tested the hypothesis that pathogens on curtains can easily be acquired on hands. Results. We found that 42%, 22%, and 4% of privacy curtains were contaminated with VRE, MRSA, and C. difficile, respectively. The proportion of positive cultures for MRSA was higher in MRSA isolation rooms than in non-isolation rooms (6 of 14, 43% versus 5 of 36, 14%; P = 0.05). Hand imprint cultures demonstrated that small numbers of each these pathogens were easily acquired on hands and transferred to an agar plate. Conclusion. Hospital privacy curtains are frequently contaminated with healthcare-associated pathogens which can easily be acquired on hands. These results demonstrate that hospital curtains have the potential to contribute to transmission of healthcare-associated pathogens.