Ambulances could be bacterial infection source

Emergency medical service vehicles may harbor microorganisms that can cause infections, according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

For the study, researchers examined samples extracted from 10 ambulances serving Bilbao, Spain. Samples were taken from six areas on the ambulance: two in the driver's cab and four in the patient area. The highest levels of infectious microbes were collected from the steering wheel, the inside handle of the passenger door and the stretcher handles. Among the microbes detected were three cultures of Staphyloccocus aureus, which were found in two of the ambulances.

These findings suggest cross-contamination occurs between the patient area and the driver's cab due to non-preventative practices like driving with gloved hands after assisting a patient and poor hand washing practices.

Guillermo Quindós, professor of microbiology at the University of the Basque Country in Leioa, Spain, and the study's coordinator, said the findings highlight the importance of good hand hygiene and infection prevention protocols.

"The existence of a protocol is desirable because it facilitates the carrying out of proper disinfection by stipulating in detail the steps to be taken," said Dr. Quindós. "Among the people working in healthcare the hand washing habit is poor and it would be necessary to build awareness about the importance of this hygiene measure to prevent microbial contamination."

More articles on infection control: 
CDC issues updated flu vaccine policy for 2016 season 
5 Legionnaires' cases linked to Memphis hotel 
Top 10 infection control stories, Sept. 19-23

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