A new analysis shows that nurses’ scrubs can become contaminated with potentially harmful bacteria through direct patient care.
“Our study showed that nurses’ clothing becomes contaminated with epidemiologically important organisms in more than 10% of their shifts,” said lead investigator Deverick Anderson, MD, associate professor of medicine at the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina.
“Much of the published research on the spread of pathogens in healthcare environments is related to the back-and-forth transmission between patients and healthcare workers. We think the environment is a third part of what we call the ‘transmission triangle’,” he said. “Bugs are spreading from patients to their environment and then to the healthcare worker.”
In the Antiseptic Scrub Contamination and Transmission (ASCOT) study, Dr Anderson and his team conducted microbiologic and molecular analyses to characterize patterns of pathogen movement. Dr Anderson presented the results here at IDWeek 2016.
In surgical and medical intensive care units (ICUs) at Duke University Hospital, 40 participating nurses wore new scrubs for three consecutive shifts.
Cultures from three scrub sites (sleeve, midriff, and pocket) and from each patient’s room (bed, bedrail, supply cart) were taken at the beginning and end of each shift.