Preventing Hospital Bacterial Infections

August 5, 2011

Monitoring devices may be a source of pneumonia.

Studies show that hospitals that more rigorously enforce hygiene standards have lower infection transmission rates. Now more surfaces are being discovered that may transmit germs, like gram negative strains of pneumonia (a leading source of death for hospitalized elderly).

The newest surface that needs to be modified to reduce bacterial transmission is the touch screen used to monitor patients. In a study that examined the source of hospital acquired pneumonial infections, some patients contracted a strain of pneumonia that was also found on their monitors.

This means that even if hospital residents wash hands, they may be recontaminating themselves and transmitting infections to patients simply by performing their job.

This is also a reminder for everyone with touchscreen devices: spray a little cleaner on a paper towel (sunglasses cleaner is usually gentle, or use a little soap and water), and carefully clean your heavily used devices from time to time. Remember commonly used objects in the home that may be a source of disease transmission that could impact family members with weakened immune systems.

While some pathogens are airborne, most are transmitted via the fecal-oral route (when hands or linens aren’t properly washed). Besides washing hands, keeping hospital surfaces clean is important in fighting the two biggest sources of infection: MRSA, and pneumonia (which can sometimes be in the antibiotic resistant form CRKP).

Many hospital tools and surfaces have been replaced with versions that are coated with nano silver, a natural antimicrobial, which helps keep glass and instruments cleaner. One particularly helpful tool that has been replaced in some hospitals with a silver coated version is the catheter. If bacteria builds up along the catheter during use, a urinary tract infections can result.

How do you think hospitals should handle cleaning touchscreens? Nano silver coated glass? Anti bacterial wipes (which can create superbugs)? More rigourous room cleaning?

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