Doctors' and nurses' hospital uniforms contain dangerous bacteria majority of the time, study shows

More than 60 percent of hospital nurses' and doctors' uniforms tested positive for potentially dangerous bacteria, according to a study published in the September issue of the American Journal of Infection Control, the official publication of APIC - the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.

A team of researchers led by Yonit Wiener-Well, MD, from the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, Israel, collected swab samples from three parts of the uniforms of 75 registered nurses (RNs) and 60 medical doctors (MDs) by pressing standard blood agar plates at the abdominal zone, sleeves' ends and pockets.

The researchers at this 550-bed, university-affiliated hospital found that exactly half of all the cultures taken, representing 65 percent of the RN uniforms and 60 percent of the MD uniforms, harbored pathogens. Of those, 21 cultures from RN uniforms and six cultures from MD uniforms contained multi-drug , including eight cultures that grew methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Although the uniforms themselves may not pose a direct risk of disease transmission, these results indicate a prevalence of antibiotic in close proximity to hospitalized patients.

"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 remains the use of 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.

According to the World Health Organization, the risk of healthcare-associated infection (HAI) in some developing countries is as much as 20 times higher than in developed countries. Even in hospitals in developed countries like Israel, the site of this investigation, and the U.S., HAIs occur too often, can be deadly, and are expensive to treat. HAI prevention is therefore the best approach for patient safety. Infection preventionists, in collaboration with direct care providers, can prevent more than half of HAIs by applying proven prevention practices as part of a comprehensive infection prevention and control program.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study finds MRSA screening saves hospitals money

Jan 27, 2011

Screening patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) produces cost savings for the whole hospital, according to a study that used a statistical simulation model published ...

Recommended for you

Global Ebola toll rises to 5,689: WHO

1 hour ago

The World Health Organization said Thursday that the global death toll from the Ebola virus had increased to 5,689 out of a total of 15,935 cases of infection, mainly in western Africa.

Ebola vaccine promising in first human trials

12 hours ago

Researchers say they're a step closer to developing an Ebola vaccine, with a Phase 1 trial showing promising results, but it will be months at the earliest before it can be used in the field.

At one month, US Ebola monitors finding no cases

15 hours ago

The U.S. program that requires weeks of monitoring for travelers from African countries with Ebola reaches the one-month mark Thursday. And so far, no cases of the disease have turned up.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.