Doctors' and Nurses' Hospital Uniforms Contain Dangerous Bacteria a Majority of the Time

Washington, DC, August 31, 2011 – More than 60 percent of hospital nurses’ and doctors’ uniforms tested positive for potentially dangerous bacteria, according to a study published in the September issue of the American Journal of Infection Control, the official publication of  APIC - the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology. 

A team of researchers led by Yonit Wiener-Well, MD, from the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, Israel, collected swab samples from three parts of the uniforms of 75 registered nurses (RNs) and 60 medical doctors (MDs) by pressing standard blood agar plates at the abdominal zone, sleeves’ ends and pockets. 

The researchers at this 550-bed, university-affiliated hospital found that exactly half of all the cultures taken, representing 65 percent of the RN uniforms and 60 percent of the MD uniforms, harbored pathogens. Of those, 21 cultures from RN uniforms and six cultures from MD uniforms contained multi-drug resistant pathogens, including eight cultures that grew methicillin-resistantStaphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Although the uniforms themselves may not pose a direct risk of disease transmission, these results indicate a prevalence of antibiotic resistant strains in close proximity to hospitalized patients.

“It is important to put these study results into perspective,” said APIC 2011 President Russell Olmsted, MPH, CIC. “Any clothing that is worn by humans will become contaminated with microorganisms. The cornerstone of infection prevention remains the use of hand hygiene to prevent the movement of microbes from these surfaces to patients.”

“New evidence such as this study by Dr. Wiener-Well is helpful to improve the understanding of potential sources of contamination but, as is true for many studies, it raises additional questions that need to be investigated,” added Olmsted. 

According to the World Health Organization, the risk of healthcare-associated infection (HAI) in some developing countries is as much as 20 times higher than in developed countries. Even in hospitals in developed countries like Israel, the site of this investigation, and the U.S., HAIs occur too often, can be deadly, and are expensive to treat. HAI prevention is therefore the best approach for patient safety. Infection preventionists, in collaboration with direct care providers, can prevent more than half of HAIs by applying proven prevention practices as part of a comprehensive infection prevention and control program. 

Full text of the article is available to journalists upon request; contact Liz Garman, APIC, +1 202-454-2604, egarman@apic.orgto obtain copies.


###


Notes For Editors
“Nursing and Physician Attire as Possible Source of Nosocomial Infections” appears in the American Journal of Infection Control, Volume 39, Issue 7 (September 2011) published by Elsevier.

Authors
Yonit Wiener-Well, MD
Infectious Disease Unit, Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem

Margalit Galuty, RN MSc
Infectious Disease Unit1, Shaare Zedek Nursing School, Jerusalem

Bernard Rudensky, PhD
Clinical Microbiology Laboratory, Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem

Yechiel Schlesinger, MD
Infectious Disease Unit, Shaare Zedek Medical Center

Denise Attias, BSc
Clinical Microbiology Laboratory, Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem

Amos M. Yinnon, MD
Infectious Disease Unit, Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem

Corresponding Author
Yonit Wiener-Well, MD, Infectious Disease Unit, Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem

About AJIC: American Journal of Infection Control
AJIC: American Journal of Infection Control ( www.ajicjournal.org) covers key topics and issues in infection control and epidemiology. Infection preventionists, including physicians, nurses, and epidemiologists, rely on AJIC for peer-reviewed articles covering clinical topics as well as original research. As the official publication of  APIC - the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology - AJIC is the foremost resource on infection control, epidemiology, infectious diseases, quality management, occupational health, and disease prevention. AJIC also publishes infection control guidelines from APIC and the CDC. Published by  Elsevier, AJIC is included in MEDLINE and CINAHL.

About APIC
APIC’s mission is to improve health and patient safety by reducing risks of infection and other adverse outcomes. The association’s more than 14,000 members direct infection prevention programs that save lives and improve the bottom line for hospitals and other healthcare facilities around the globe. APIC advances its mission through education, research, collaboration, practice guidance, public policy and credentialing. Visit APIC online at  www.apic.org. For consumer-related information, visit  www.preventinfection.org.

About Elsevier

Elsevier is a world-leading provider of information solutions that enhance the performance of science, health, and technology professionals, empowering them to make better decisions, deliver better care, and sometimes make groundbreaking discoveries that advance the boundaries of knowledge and human progress. Elsevier provides web-based, digital solutions — among them ScienceDirect, Scopus, Elsevier Research Intelligence, and ClinicalKey — and publishes nearly 2,200 journals, including The Lancet and Cell, and over 25,000 book titles, including a number of iconic reference works.

The company is part of Reed Elsevier Group PLC, a world leading provider of professional information solutions in the Science, Medical, Legal and Risk and Business sectors, which is jointly owned by Reed Elsevier PLC and Reed Elsevier NV. The ticker symbols are REN (Euronext Amsterdam), REL (London Stock Exchange), RUK and ENL (New York Stock Exchange).

Media contact
Liz Garman
+1 202 454 2604
egarman@apic.org