A new study suggests that hospitals need to disseminate the idea of washing hands, to their patients too, apart from their staff. The study was published in the Journal 'Clinical Infectious Diseases'. The study gathered data from 399 hospitals, in which it was revealed that fourteen per cent of the hospital patients had 'superbug' antibiotic-resistant bacteria on their hands or their nostrils.
Another six per cent of the patients who didn't have multi-drug resistant organisms, or MDROs, on their hands at the start of their hospitalization tested positive for them on their hands later in their stay. One-fifth of the objects tested in their rooms had similar superbugs on them too. However, researchers cautioned that the presence of MDROs didn't necessarily mean that patients would fall sick. "Hand hygiene narrative has largely focused on physicians, nurses and other frontline staff, and all the policies and performance measurements have centred on them, and rightfully so," said Lona Mody, leader of the research.
Mody notes that the study suggests that many of the MDROs seen on patients are also seen in their rooms early in their stay, suggesting that transmission to room surfaces is rapid. She added, "But our findings make an argument for addressing transmission of MDROs in a way that involves patients, too." Using genetic fingerprinting techniques, they looked to see if the strains of MRSA bacteria on the patients' hands were the same as the ones in their rooms. They found the two matched in nearly all cases - suggesting that transfer to and from the patient was happening. They reported that six patients in their study who developed an infection with a superbug called MRSA while in the hospital; all had positive tests for MRSA on their hands and hospital room surfaces.
"This study highlights the importance of hand washing and environmental cleaning, especially within a healthcare setting where patients' immune systems are compromised," says Katherine Reyes, lead author. When these germs are not washed off, they pass easily from person to person and objects to person and make people sick," added Reyes. Mody advised, "This study is a good reminder to clean your hands often, using good techniques--especially before and after preparing food, before eating food, after using a toilet, and before and after caring for someone who is sick-- to protect yourself and others." "Infection prevention is everybody's business," concluded Mody.
(With inputs from agencies.)