A portion of ICU patients’ hands harbor pathogenic bacteria, including multidrug-resistant organisms, according to findings published in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.
“Although many previous studies have examined the role of health care workers’ hands in pathogen transmission, several recent studies have also highlighted the fact that patients’ hands are often contaminated and may contribute to pathogen transmission,” Aaron N. Dunn, BA, of the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, and colleagues wrote. “We aimed to determine the prevalence of patient hand contamination with MDROs and other pathogenic bacteria in the ICU setting.”
Dunn and colleagues conducted a prospective, observational study in three ICUs at a tertiary care center. Researchers collected imprints of a patient’s hand on a nonselective tryptic soy agar handprint plate that contained 0.01% lecithin and 0.5% polysorbate 80. Bacterial colonies, including MRSA and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), among others, were identified through standard microbiologic methods.
In total, 56 patients’ hand imprints were collected over 10 weeks. Nine patients had at least one aerobic pathogenic bacteria on a hand and four patients had at least one MDRO; two had MRSA, one patient had VRE, and one patient had ciprofloxacin-resistant gram-negative bacteria. Most patients had normal skin flora.
“Our study demonstrates that ICU patients’ hands may harbor pathogenic bacteria, providing further evidence that poor patient hand hygiene may contribute to transmission of resistant [health care-associated infections],” the authors concluded. “Further studies are necessary to understand barriers to adequate patient hand hygiene and to identify best practice strategies.” – by Caitlyn Stulpin
Disclosur es : Dunn reports serving on advisory boards for Ferring Pharmaceuticals and receiving research funding from Clorox and 3M. Please see the full study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.