New Study Finds SuperBugs On Patients’ Hands: A recent study published by the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal suggests that patients as well as staff need to be more informed about the importance of washing their hands during their stay in hospital. While the cost of healthcare is still a major worry for patients, hygiene practices should also be a concern, with 20% of objects tested in patients’ rooms during the study found to be hosting superbug bacteria.
New Study Finds SuperBugs On Patients’ Hands
What Is A Superbug?
The term ‘superbug’ is applied to bacteria that has become resistant to antibiotics. A common example found in hospitals is MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, but there are several other types of bacteria that have grown to be antibiotic-resistant. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention host a superbug site listing 18 different antibiotic-resistant threats in the U.S, but many of these are also prevalent in hospitals across the globe. Because of the challenges presented by these strains of bacteria, it is of vital importance that stringent cleanliness and hygiene practices are employed by healthcare providers, and that specialist hospital cleaning services are utilized. It is also crucial that both patients and staff are well-informed about good hygiene practices, and that patients and their visitors wash their hands thoroughly and regularly in order to prevent infection.
Patients As Important As Staff
Until recently, the focus has been on encouraging hospital staff to wash their hands to prevent the spread of bacteria, but the study reported in Clinical Infectious Diseases suggests that patients should also be better informed. Researchers tested 399 patients, and found that 14% of them had superbug bacteria on their hands or nostrils on admittance. A further 6% of patients acquired the bacteria during their hospital stay, and roughly a fifth of commonly touched objects were found to host the bacteria. While antibiotic-resistant bacteria may not be dangerous for a healthy person with a strong immune system, traveling around the hospital for tests and treatments may lead to a more vulnerable person becoming infected. The more patients that carry the bacteria and leave it on the objects they touch, the greater the risk of infection.
Thorough washing of the hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer will go a long way towards preventing the spread of infection. This has implications not only for the spread of superbug bacteria, but also for other pathogens prevalent in a healthcare setting, including sepsis, which kills over 300 million patients globally each year, according to the World Health Organization. Providing patients with the facilities to wash their hands, even when they are bed-bound, is important in order to foster an environment of good hand hygiene amongst staff and service-users alike. Developing a culture where patients feel empowered to ask for advice on handwashing practices and talk about hand hygiene with other patients could have a significant impact on reducing the spread of infection in hospitals.
While the responsibility for maintaining a clean and sanitary environment ultimately lands with the hospital, it is clear that patients, too, have a role to play in preventing the spread of serious infection within the healthcare setting.