By Ken Buben, President – FancyScrubs.com
More than 60 percent of health workers’ uniforms sampled by Israeli researchers tested positive for pathogens, including the germs that can cause pneumonia, bloodstream infections and drug-resistant infections such as MRSA.
That’s according to a study of hospital uniforms published August 31st in the American Journal of Infection Control. Israeli researchers collected samples from the sleeves, waists and pockets of 75 registered nurses and 60 doctors at a busy university-based hospital to confirm the germs.
Half of the samples tested positive for one or more pathogens; potentially dangerous bacteria were isolated from at least one site on 63 percent of the uniforms. Of those, 11 percent of the bugs were resistant to multiple front-line antibiotics.
“These data suggest that personnel attire may be one route by which pathogenic bacteria are transmitted to patients,” concluded the researchers, led by Dr. Yonit Wiener-Well of the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.
To be sure, the study doesn’t verify a link between the germy garb and actual patient infections, the authors say. But it does raise enough questions to reignite conversations about the rick factor of hospital uniforms and medical scrubs — especially when health workers wear them in public: out to grocery stores, or to sandwich shops and restaurants.
Previous studies in Britain and the United States have suggested that hospital worker attire — including neckties, long-sleeved shirts or coats, and watches, rings and other jewelry — could harbor bacteria that might be passed on to patients.
Experts said the germs detected on the uniforms likely reflected poor hand-washing practices, an intractable problem at most hospitals, where between one-third and one-half of health workers fail to follow good hand hygiene, studies have shown.
The Israeli researchers found, not surprisingly, that contamination increased the longer health workers wore their uniforms. The rate of contamination with multi-resistant organisms was 29 percent on scrubs changed every two days, compared with 8 percent in uniforms changed daily, the study found.
They recommended that health workers change into clean uniforms daily, boost their hand hygiene practices including proper hand washing and use plastic aprons for messy jobs that may involve splashing or contact with bodily fluids.
That’s good advice, agreed Olmsted and Conner, who both said that decreasing the opportunities for bacteria to hitch a ride on hands, clothing or other objects is the key to infection control.
To control the spread of germs from your medical uniforms check out the Vestex line of medical scrubs here at Fancy Scrubs.com – the protect against bodily fluids, blood and all fluids.