Hospital Floors May Pose a Larger Health Risk Than Previously Thought


Arlington, VA, February 28, 2017

Hospital room floors may be an overlooked source of infection, according to a study published in the March issue of the American Journal of Infection Control, the official journal of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC). Because items in the patient’s room may touch the floor, pathogens on hospital floors can rapidly move to the hands and high-touch surfaces throughout a hospital room.

“Understanding gaps in infection prevention is critically important for institutions seeking to improve the quality of care offered to patients,” said 2017 APIC president Linda Greene, RN, MPS, CIC, FAPIC. “Even though most facilities believe they are taking the proper precautions, this study points out the importance of ensuring cleanliness of the hospital environment and the need for education of both staff and patients on this issue.”

In the study by Abhishek Deshpande, MD, PhD and colleagues, researchers cultured 318 floor sites from 159 patient rooms (two sites per room) in five Cleveland-area hospitals. The hospital rooms included both C. difficile infection (CDI) isolation rooms and non-CDI rooms. Researchers also cultured hands (gloved and bare) as well as other high-touch surfaces such as clothing, call buttons, medical devices, linens, and medical supplies.

The researchers found that floors in patient rooms were often contaminated with Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), VRE, and C. difficile, with C. difficile being the most frequently recovered pathogen found in both CDI isolation rooms and non-CDI rooms.

Of 100 occupied rooms surveyed, 41 percent had one or more high-touch objects in contact with the floor. These included personal items, medical devices, and supplies. MRSA, VRE, and C. difficile were recovered from 6 (18 percent), 2 (6 percent), and 1 (3 percent), respectively of bare or gloved hands that handled the items.

“Efforts to improve disinfection in the hospital environment usually focus on surfaces that are frequently touched by the hands of healthcare workers or patients,” said Deshpande, et al.  “Although healthcare facility floors are often heavily contaminated, limited attention has been paid to disinfection of floors because they are not frequently touched. The results of our study suggest that floors in hospital rooms could be an underappreciated source for dissemination of pathogens and are an important area for additional research.”

Visit www.apic.org for resources on disinfecting contaminated surfaces.

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Notes for editors
The article is “Are hospital floors an underappreciated reservoir for transmission of health care-associated pathogens?” by Abhishek Deshpande; Jennifer L. Cadnum; Dennis Fertelli; Brett Sitzlar; Priyaleela Thota; Thriveen Sankar C.; Annette Jencso; Heba Alhmidi; Sreelatha Koganti; and Curtis J. Donskey (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajic.2016.11.005). It appears in the American Journal of Infection Control, volume 45, issue 3 (March 2017), published by Elsevier.

About AJIC: American Journal of Infection Control
The AJIC: American Journal of Infection Control 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, 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. www.ajicjournal.org

About APIC
APIC’s mission is to create a safer world through prevention of infection. The association’s more than 15,000 members direct infection prevention programs that save lives and improve the bottom line for hospitals and other healthcare facilities. APIC advances its mission through patient safety, implementation science, competencies and certification, advocacy, and data standardization. Visit APIC online at www.apic.org. Follow APIC on Twitter: www.twitter.com/apic and Facebook: www.facebook.com/APICInfectionPreventionandYou . For information on what patients and families can do, visit APIC’s Infection Prevention and You website at www.apic.org/infectionpreventionandyou.

About Elsevier
Elsevier is a global information analytics business that helps institutions and professionals progress science, advance healthcare and improve performance for the benefit of humanity. Elsevier provides digital solutions and tools in the areas of strategic research management, R&D performance, clinical decision support, and professional education; including ScienceDirect, Scopus, SciVal, ClinicalKey and Sherpath. Elsevier publishes over 2,500 digitized journals, including The Lancet and Cell, more than 35,000 e-book titles and many iconic reference works, including Gray's Anatomy. Elsevier is part of RELX Group, a global provider of information and analytics for professionals and business customers across industries. www.elsevier.com

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