Study Reveals Hospital Uniforms Harbor Potentially Dangerous Bacteria

September 6, 2011

The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) has issued a news release about a recent study published in APIC’s peer-reviewed journal American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC).

The study, published in the September issue of AJIC, presents the disturbing finding that “more than 60 percent of hospital nurses’ and doctors’ uniforms tested positive for potentially dangerous bacteria.”

The research team was led by Yonit Wiener-Well, MD from the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, Israel, a 550-bed, university-affiliated hospital.

Swab samples from three parts of uniforms were collected from 75 registered nurses and 60 medical doctors. The three uniform areas tested were the abdominal area, sleeve ends, and pockets.

The results showed that 65 percent of the RN uniforms and 60 percent of the doctors’ uniforms harbored pathogens. Of those results, 21 cultures from RN uniforms and six cultures from the doctors’ uniforms tested positive for multi-drug resistant pathogens, including 8 cultures with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

“It is important to put these study results into perspective,” said APIC 2011 President Russell Olmsted, MPH, CIC. “Any clothing that is worn by humans will become contaminated with microorganisms. The cornerstone of infection prevention remains the use of hand hygiene to prevent the movement of microbes from these surfaces to patients.”

“New evidence such as this study by Dr. Wiener-Well is helpful to improve the understanding of potential sources of contamination but, as is true for many studies, it raises additional questions that need to be investigated,” added Olmsted.

Click here to read the APIC news release.

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