Hand washing and improved clinical hygiene can only go so far, when it comes to protecting hospital patients from antibiotic-resistant “superbug” infections, a new study has found. Dangerous bacteria can float on air currents and contaminate surfaces far from infected patients' beds, according to University of Leeds researchers.
The study, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, may explain why some hospitals struggle to prevent bacteria moving from patient to patient, despite strict cleaning regimes and hygiene controls.Editor’s Note: Editor’s Note: 3 Secrets to Never Get Sick Again. Get Super Immunity for Only $4.95. Click here.
Health officials have expressed growing concern about infectious bacteria, such as MRSA and C-difficile, that can spread patient infections through contact with doctors, hospital staff, visitors, or even other patients. In recent years, hospitals have placed a great stress on keeping workers’ hands and surfaces clean. But the Leeds research shows that coughing, sneezing, or simply shaking the bedclothes can send superbugs into flight, allowing them to contaminate recently-cleaned surfaces.
For the study, lead researcher Marco-Felipe King released into the air tiny droplets containing Staphyloccus aureus, a bacteria related to MRSA, from a mannequin simulating a hospital patient. He placed Petri dishes where other patients' beds, bedside tables, chairs, and washbasins might be and then checked where the bacteria landed and grew. The results confirmed that contamination can spread to surfaces across a ward.
"The level of contamination immediately around the patient's bed was high but you would expect that. hospitals keep beds clean and disinfect the tables and surfaces next to beds," said Dr. Cath Noakes, from the University's School of Civil Engineering, who supervised the work. Editor’s Note: Editor’s Note: 3 Secrets to Never Get Sick Again. Get Super Immunity for Only $4.95. Click here.
"However, we also captured significant quantities of bacteria right across the room, up to 3.5 meters away and especially along the route of the airflows in the room."
The international design and engineering firm Arup, which designs hospitals, partly sponsored the study.