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Detection of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci on the Gowns and Gloves of Healthcare Workers

  • Graham M. Snyder (a1), Kerri A. Thorn (a1), Jon P. Furuno (a1), Eli N. Perencevich (a1) (a2), Mary-Claire Roghmann (a1) (a2), Sandra M. Strauss (a1), Giora Netzer (a3) and Anthony D. Harris (a1) (a2)...



To assess the rate of and the risk factors for the detection of methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) on the protective gowns and gloves of healthcare workers (HCWs).


We observed the interactions between HCWs and patients during routine clinical activities in a 29-bed medical intensive care unit at the University of Maryland Medical Center, an urban tertiary care academic hospital. Samples for culture were obtained from HCWs' hands prior to their entering a patient's room, from HCWs' disposable gowns and gloves after they completed patient care activities, and from HCWs' hands immediately after they removed their protective gowns and gloves.


Of 137 HCWs caring for patients colonized or infected with MRSA and/or VRE, 24 (17.5%; 95% confidence interval, 11.6%–24.4%) acquired the organism on their gloves, gown, or both. HCW contact with the endotracheal tube or tracheostomy site of a patient (P < .05), HCW contact with the head and/or neck of a patient (P < .05), and HCW presence in the room of a patient with a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy and/or jejunostomy tube (P < .05) were associated with an increased risk of acquiring these organisms.


The gloves and gowns of HCWs frequently become contaminated with MRSA and VRE during the routine care of patients, and particularly during care of the patient's respiratory tract and any associated indwelling devices. As part of a larger infection control strategy, including high-compliance hand disinfection, they likely provide a useful barrier to transmitting antibiotic-resistant organisms among patients in an inpatient setting.


Corresponding author

Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, 100 N. Greene Street, Lower Level, Baltimore, MD 21201 (


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