Medical gloves, gowns often contaminated with MRSA, study finds

MRSA contaminates intensive care unit gloves and gowns often, according to a study published Sept. 13 by Oxford University Press for the Infectious Diseases Society of America. 

The multicenter study involved 402 MRSA patients and 3,982 interactions with healthcare providers in the intensive care unit. Researchers tested gloves and gowns after provider interactions with patients and sampled patients to assess ties between bacterial burden and contamination. 

Contamination of either gloves or gowns occurred in 16.2 percent of interactions. Gloves were contaminated 14.3 percent of the time, and gowns were contaminated 5.9 percent of the time. Occupational and physical therapists had the highest rates of contamination (6.96 percent), followed by respiratory therapists (5.34 percent). Providers who touched patients' endotracheal tubes and' bedding — or who helped with bathing — were more likely to demonstrate MRSA contamination. Researchers also found a link between higher bacterial burden on the patient and contamination.

Researchers recommend hospitals use fewer contact precautions for low-risk interactions and and implement more precautions for higher-risk interactions. 

The findings will be presented Oct. 4 at IDWeek in Washington, DC.

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