I wish I had found the article I’m basing this week’s blog on before I started the training. I would have had more examples of why we should live in bubbles! While the article focused on items or surfaces found in hospitals, my guess is the same would hold true for some of the surfaces regardless of the type of facility we are in. What were the top 5 germ covered surfaces?
1. CURTAINS: Which really should not be surprising. They are frequently touched. They are infrequently changed and chances are people do not wash their hands after touching them. Let’s be realistic, how many times have you touched a hospital curtain and not washed your hands after. But don’t just focus on hospital privacy curtains. What about the curtains in hotels? Don’t you touch them each night and morning? How frequently do you think they are cleaned or changed? If we have issue with hand hygiene in hospitals, my guess is that hand hygiene of the typical traveller is worse… Seriously, think about it.
2. STETHOSCOPES: If you’re surprised about this you need to read more. Shared patient care equipment has been linked to many outbreaks and/or transmission of pathogenic microbes including MDRO’s. One study showed that up to 32% of the bells and diaphragms tested were found to have MRSA, C. diff and viruses on them. Don’t just blame the human doctors.Vets and Vet Techs have also been found to be lax in cleaning their stethoscopes between patients.
3. LINENS: You’ll never be able to look at a bed the same again. The ugly truth is no matter how white the linens appear, they can be a reservoir for bacteria and viruses. In fact studies have shown that C. diff spores can survive commercial washers with industrial detergents. If that’s not bad enough, contaminated bed sheets can spread pathogens to uncontaminated bed sheets as well as spread germs between patients and hospitals. Many hospitals use external laundry services which may be shared by hotels and spas meaning hospital germs could have the potential to contaminate hotel and spa linens. But even worse, if a hospital cannot get rid of germs from their linens do you think hotels and spas or hair salons will be able to?
4. TABLETOPS (and other surfaces): Basically any surface that has the potential to be frequently touched by patients, staff or visitors can serve as ground zero to pathogens. Numerous studies have been published showing that all of the nasty bugs can be found. Understanding that these frequently touched surfaces can lead to transmission of bugs has led to hospitals beefing up their cleaning and disinfection practices. I’m not sure the same can be said about other facilities and building with tabletops and other surfaces!
5. NECKTIES: I’m sure some of my readers would disagree, but I’ve always thought a well-dressed man in a suit and tie was nice to look at…. Talk about ruining a good thing. Neckties and other items of clothing can quickly become contaminated with pathogenic bugs putting into question what is considered appropriate dress ware for work! Perhaps we should take a page from the story “The Emperor’s New Clothes”.