Study finds hospital floors pose significant health risk

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A study by the Association of Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, or APIC, suggests hospital room floors pose a significant infection risk.

Items in hospital rooms often come in contact with the floor, and pathogens can then spread quickly from the items to hands and other surfaces, researchers found in the study.

“Understanding gaps in infection prevention is critically important for institutions seeking to improve the quality of care offered to patients,” APIC President Linda Greene said in a press release. “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.”

Researchers cultured 318 floors from 159 patient rooms in five Cleveland-area hospitals including both C. difficile infection, or CDI, isolation rooms and non-CDI rooms, along with gloved and bare hands, clothing, call buttons, medical devices, linens and medical supplies.

Results showed that floors in patient rooms were contaminated with Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, VRE and C. difficile. C. difficile was the most frequently found pathogen in CDI isolation rooms and non-CDI rooms, the researchers report.

In the 100 occupied hospital rooms studied, 41 percent had one or more high-touch objects in contact with the floor, including personal items, medical devices and supplies.

“Efforts to improve disinfection in the hospital environment usually focus on surfaces that are frequently touched by the hands of healthcare workers or patients,” the researchers wrote in the study. “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.”

The study was published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

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