Hospital rooms can be bacteria reservoirs

Nov. 30, 2012 at 11:32 PM

COLLEGE PARK, Md., Nov. 30 (UPI) -- Hospital cleaning protocols may not be good enough to rid patient rooms of germs leaving the room a potential reservoir of contamination, U.S. researchers say.

A team of researchers from the University of Maryland collected 487 cultures from 32 hospital rooms occupied by just-discharged patients with a known history of MDR A. baumannii bacteria. The cultures were taken both before and after terminal cleaning of the rooms.

The study, published in the American Journal of Infection Control, found more than half of the rooms that tested positive for the bacteria prior to cleaning remained contaminated after terminal cleaning had occurred.

Sites with post-cleaning contamination included the floor, call button, door handle, bedside table and supply cart, the study said.

"Persistent room contamination serves as a potential reservoir for transmission and colonization of future room occupants," the study authors said in the article. "Current cleaning techniques in terms of products used or thoroughness of cleaning may not be adequate in the decontamination of this pathogen."

Lead author Dr. Anthony D. Harris of the University of Maryland School of Medicine said Acinetobacter baumannii is a type of bacteria that has become increasingly prevalent in healthcare facilities and is resistant to most antibiotics.

Infections from this pathogen primarily occur in very ill, wounded, or immuno-compromised patients.

The germ can remain on wet or dry surfaces for longer than most other organisms, making it harder to eradicate, Harris added.

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