European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases

European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases

April 16, 2019
1 min read

Patient privacy curtains commonly contaminated with MDROs

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Patient privacy curtains are commonly contaminated with multidrug-resistant organisms, or MDROs, and despite frequently coming in contact with patients and health care personnel, they are not cleaned regularly, making them a potential source of transmission, according to findings presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.

Kristen Gibson, MPH, a research associate and project manager for the University of Michigan Health System, and colleagues conducted a prospective cohort study in six skilled nursing facilities in southeast Michigan to determine the relationship between patient colonization and curtain contamination.

During the study, they sampled patients and high-touch surfaces at admission, day 14, day 30 and then monthly up to 6 months.

Of the 1,521 samples collected from the most frequently touched edge of privacy curtains in 625 rooms, 22% were positive for MDROs, they reported. Specifically, 13.8% of cultures tested positive for vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), 6.2% were positive for resistant gram-negative bacilli and 4.9% were positive for MRSA. Gibson and colleagues found no differences between private and shared rooms.

Photo of a hospital privacy curtain 
Patient privacy curtains are used in most health care facilities worldwide, and recent findings show they are a potential source of MDRO transmission.
Source: Adobe Stock

According to the study, 15.7% of sampling visits showed that the same MDRO concurrently colonized patients and their privacy curtain. Contamination of the bedside curtain was associated with patient colonization with MRSA and VRE, and the researchers noted that among the curtains colonized with VRE, 57.6% of patients were also colonized. When a patient was not infected with VRE, sampling visits found that VRE was not detected on the privacy curtain 73.3% of the time.

A previous study investigated the use of antimicrobial hospital curtains and found that the curtain, made with a blend of quaternary ammonium chlorides plus polyorganosiloxane, reduced MDRO contamination compared with a standard curtain.

“As privacy curtains are used all over the world, it's a global issue,” Gibson and colleagues said in a news release. “Further studies are needed to determine conclusively whether contaminated privacy curtains are a source of MDRO transmission to patients." – by Marley Ghizzone


Gibson K, et al. Abstract 7562. Presented at: ECCMID; April 13-16, 2019; Amsterdam.

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.