Researchers in Michigan have detected antibiotic-resistant superbug bacteria in the hands and nostrils of hospitalized patients. The findings of the study emphasize the importance of following a rigorous handwashing practice. ( University of Michigan )
Among doctors and nurses, it is imperative that strict hand hygiene be followed to prevent the spread of germs, and a new study has shown that this practice should also be followed by patients.
The scientists examined patients during the first days of hospitalization, as well as objects that patients used inside hospital rooms, such as the nurse's call button.
The data collected demonstrate that patients should also follow a rigorous hygiene of hand washing. However, the researchers caution that the findings do not mean that patients will be immediately ill with antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
In addition, the hands of healthcare professionals are still the primary mode of transmission of microbes to patients.
Superbug antibiotic-resistant bacteria found in patients' hands, nostrils
Researchers at the University of Michigan have made more than 700 visits to rooms of general practitioners interned at two hospitals.
Patients were enrolled in the study and samples were taken from their bodies as well as on their objects often touched with their permission.
What the team found was that of the 399 patients who examined at least 14% had antibiotic-resistant superbug bacteria in their hands and nostrils early in hospital admission.
Nearly a third of the tests on objects commonly touched by patients in their rooms, including the nurse call button, have proved positive for these antibiotic-resistant superbug bacteria.
Using genetic fingerprint techniques, the scientists also looked at whether the strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in the hands of patients were the same as in their rooms. Two combined in almost all cases, which suggested that transmission to patients happened.
In addition, another 6% of patients who did not have multiple drug resistant organisms on their hands at the start of hospitalization had positive results at the end of hospitalization.
About a fifth of the objects tested in the rooms also had similar superbugs.
"[O]Their findings support the approach of transmitting MDROs in a way that involves patients as well, "explained Dr. Lona Mody, a geriatrician who led the research team.
Why the findings of the study subject
Mody said it's important that hospital patients not just stay in their rooms. They should also get up and walk in the aisles as part of their recovery.
Since patients must be transported to other areas of the hospital for testing and procedures, they actually pass the bacteria from other patients and staff, and also leave them on the surfaces they touch.
If a relatively healthy person has a MDRO on their skin, and their immune system can fight it, a more vulnerable person can get in touch with that other person and get sick.
"No matter where you are in a health setting or not, this study is a good reminder to clean your hands often," added Mody. This included before and after preparing food, before eating, after using a toilet, and before and after taking care of someone who is sick.
Mody and his colleagues were also the ones who published a study on how privacy curtains within hospital rooms carry superbugs. That is why it is important to always wash these curtains and change them regularly.
Meanwhile, details of the new study were published in the journal Infectious Diseases Clinics and will be presented at a conference in Europe.
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