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Many people still assume that hospitals are generally clean, sanitized places where harmful pathogens would have a difficult time surviving. But a new study published in the American Journal of Infection Control says otherwise, having found that nearly half of all hospital rooms tested were contaminated with a deadly, drug-resistant superbug known as Acinetobacter baumannii (MDR-AB).
For their study, researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine tested bed rails, tables, supply carts, door knobs, nurse call buttons, infusion pumps, various equipment touch pads, and floors for the bacteria. They found that in 48 percent of rooms tested, nearly 10 percent of surface samples contained MDR-AB.
Leading the pack were cart handles, which were found to be contaminated 20 percent of the time. Floors around hospital beds were second, representing a 16 percent contamination rate. Following these were infusion pumps at 14 percent, ventilator touch pads at 11.4 percent, and bed rails at just over ten percent.
"For patients with MDR-AB, the surrounding environment is frequently contaminated, even among patients with a remote history of MDR-AB," said the researchers in their journal release. "In addition, surfaces often touched by health care workers during routine patient care are commonly contaminated and may be a source of (hospital-based) transmission. The results of this study are consistent with studies of other important hospital pathogens such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus and Clostridium difficile."