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To investigate the timing and routes of contamination of the rooms of patients newly admitted to the hospital.
Observational cohort study and simulations of pathogen transfer.
A Veterans’ Affairs hospital.
Patients newly admitted to the hospital with no known carriage of healthcare-associated pathogens.
Interactions between the participants and personnel or portable equipment were observed, and cultures of high-touch surfaces, floors, bedding, and patients’ socks and skin were collected for up to 4 days. Cultures were processed for Clostridioides difﬁcile, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE). Simulations were conducted with bacteriophage MS2 to assess plausibility of transfer from contaminated floors to high-touch surfaces and to assess the effectiveness of wearing slippers in reducing transfer.
Environmental cultures became positive for at least 1 pathogen in 10 (59%) of the 17 rooms, with cultures positive for MRSA, C. difficile, and VRE in the rooms of 10 (59%), 2 (12%), and 2 (12%) participants, respectively. For all 14 instances of pathogen detection, the initial site of recovery was the floor followed in a subset of patients by detection on sock bottoms, bedding, and high-touch surfaces. In simulations, wearing slippers over hospital socks dramatically reduced transfer of bacteriophage MS2 from the floor to hands and to high-touch surfaces.
Floors may be an underappreciated source of pathogen dissemination in healthcare facilities. Simple interventions such as having patients wear slippers could potentially reduce the risk for transfer of pathogens from floors to hands and high-touch surfaces.
Gloves and gowns are used during patient care to reduce contamination of personnel and prevent pathogen transmission.
To determine whether the use of gowns adds a substantial benefit over gloves alone in preventing patient-to-patient transfer of a viral DNA surrogate marker.
In total, 30 source patients had 1 cauliflower mosaic virus surrogate marker applied to their skin and clothing and a second to their bed rail and bedside table. Personnel caring for the source patients were randomized to wear gloves, gloves plus cover gowns, or no barrier. Interactions with up to 7 subsequent patients were observed, and the percentages of transfer of the DNA markers were compared among the 3 groups.
In comparison to the no-barrier group (57.8% transfer of 1 or both markers), there were significant reductions in transfer of the DNA markers in the gloves group (31.1% transfer; odds ratio [OR], 0.16; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.02-0.73) and the gloves-plus-gown group (25.9% transfer; OR, 0.11; 95% CI, 0.01–0.51). The addition of a cover gown to gloves during the interaction with the source patient did not significantly reduce the transfer of the DNA marker (P = .53). During subsequent patient interactions, transfer of the DNA markers was significantly reduced if gloves plus gowns were worn and if hand hygiene was performed (P < .05).
Wearing gloves or gloves plus gowns reduced the frequency of patient-to-patient transfer of a viral DNA surrogate marker. The use of gloves plus gowns during interactions with the source patient did not reduce transfer in comparison to gloves alone.