Typically, patients admitted to a hospital room are most concerned about the doctors and nurses that will be attending to them.
However, a new report finds it may be more important to ask, ‘Who was here before me?'
According to Dr. John Boyce, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, a patient admitted in the same hospital room previously occupied by a patient with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) or vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) "has an increased risk of contracting these multi-drug resistant organisms."
Further, acquiring one or both of these diseases is possible for up to two weeks after the infected person has left the room.
A crucial way the problem can be rectified, Dr. Boyce reports, is through more effective, hygienic cleaning, "but studies have shown [hospital] housekeepers wipe clean [only] about 50 percent of surfaces that require cleaning."
Dr. Boyce suggests more thorough cleaning education and training is required in hospitals. He also believes that medical and other types of facilities should employ adenosine triphosphate (ATP) bioluminescence rapid monitoring systems to assess bacterial levels on surfaces.
With ATP rapid monitoring systems, surfaces are sampled with a specialized swab. The swab is then placed into the rapid monitoring system and a digital readout reports the level of ATP detected on the test surface within about 15 seconds.
"Although ATP does not detect specific contaminants, it can be a warning contaminants might be present," says John Richter, technical Director for Kaivac, Inc., which markets ATP systems. "Surfaces that are contaminated typically reveal high [ATP] readings."
Richter also believes hospitals might want to re-evaluate their cleaning systems. "If only 50 percent of [potentially] contaminated surfaces are wiped clean, then it is fairly obvious another type of cleaning method that is less dependent on hand wiping surfaces is called for."
Source: Medscape, June 11, 2010