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Study published in the Journal of Hospital Infection

Examining the association between surface bioburden and frequently touched sites in intensive care.

The hospital environment is habitually contaminated with micro-organisms and may thus play a role in the spread of pathogens such as meticillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) and meticillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA).1 These pathogens are predominantly located at sites adjoining the patient’s bedside and could be transmitted to patients via contaminated hands of healthcare workers. Hospitals promote the importance of hand hygiene but staff do not always clean their hands when they should, and near-patient surfaces do not always receive adequate cleaning.

Patients in an intensive care unit (ICU) are at increased risk of acquiring a nosocomial infection compared with those on a general ward. First, compromised patients are at risk from their own endogenous organisms; second, cleaning frequencies of high-risk surfaces may not be sufficient to impede the risk of repeated recontamination with pathogens.8 Whereas hand hygiene remains the cornerstone of infection control,
frequently touched sites inevitably host reservoirs of microbes.

The objective of this study was to examine which nearpatient sites are most frequently handled in the ICU and whether there is an association between hand-touch frequencies and microbial soil found at those sites, including presence of MSSA and MRSA.

Recognition of such an association would help prioritize the cleaning of near-patient sites in the ICU, as well as facilitating review of current cleaning frequencies.

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