Hand hygiene key to mitigating S. aureus transmission in the OR

A study published in the American Journal of Infection Control examined protocols for preventing the spread of Staphylococcus aureus pathogens in the operating room.

Researchers from Iowa City-based University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics identified and characterized the epidemiology of pathogenic S. aureus sequence types in the OR. They collected S. aureus isolates from three academic medical centers.

Researchers found that S. aureus sequence type 5 is associated with increased strength of biofilm formation and increased risk of transmission and infection. The combination of ST 5 pathogenicity, an aging patient population and complex surgical procedures may explain the increase in the spread of antibiotic-resistant S. aureus pathogens in the community.

They found patient skin surfaces and healthcare provider hands are sources of ST 5 pathogen transmission. Additionally, they found that OR environmental surfaces were linked with transmission.

"The increase in the spread of S. aureus pathogens beyond the acute care setting is alarming, but we know that there are evidence-based practices that can address this critical patient safety issue," said Randy W. Loftus, MD, lead study author and an anesthesiologist at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

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