Hospital floors 'underappreciated' source of bacteria spread, study finds

Hospital floors may be a larger source of bacteria infection spread than previously thought, according to a study published Nov. 2 in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology

The observational study took place in an acute care hospital and analyzed how quickly and where pathogens transferred after admitting 17 new patients. Before testing for pathogens, all rooms were thoroughly sanitized and enrolled patients screened negative for MRSA. Culture samples were collected from the floor, frequently touched areas, and patient socks and beds one to three times per day. 

Within 24 hours, nearly half of the rooms were contaminated with MRSA. In 58 percent of patient rooms, Clostridioides difficile and vancomycin-resistant enterococci were detected within four days of patient admission. 

"If bacteria stayed on floors this wouldn't matter, but we're seeing clear evidence that these organisms are transferred to patients, despite our current control efforts," Curtis Donskey, MD, study author and hospital epidemiologist at the Cleveland VA Medical Center, said in a Nov. 2 news release. "Hand hygiene is crucial, but we need to develop practical approaches to reduce underappreciated sources of pathogens to protect patients." 

Researchers found similar results in a recent COVID-19-related study. On a COVID-19 ward, SARS-CoV-2 was often identified on the floors and shoes of healthcare workers. Increased floor cleaning and "simple modifications" reduced contamination, according to the study. 

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