Hospital Privacy Curtains: A Source of Harmful Germs

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Privacy curtains in hospital rooms can threaten patient safety by harboring dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria and being a breeding ground and potential source of infection, say researchers in Winnipeg, Canada.

In a small pilot study, the Canadian researchers monitored the contamination levels of 10 freshly-washed privacy curtains in the Regional Burns/Plastics Unit of the Health Services Center. Four of the curtains were placed in a four-bed room, four were placed in two double rooms, and two controls were placed in areas without direct patient or caregiver contact. The curtains hung in patient rooms became increasingly contaminated over time, and in a two week period, more than 87 percent tested positive for MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). The control curtains weren’t contaminated after 21 days.

According to the researchers, none of the curtains used in the study were placed in rooms occupied by patients with MRSA. The samples were taken from areas where patients, caregivers, and visitors typically touch the curtains, suggesting that the contamination resulted from direct contact.

Sourced from: American Journal of Infection Control