Many Hospital Staff Uniforms Contaminated With Bacteria

More than 60 percent of uniforms are contaminated, with similar rates between nurses, physicians

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 7 (HealthDay News) -- More than 60 percent of hospital staff uniforms are contaminated with potentially pathogenic bacteria, including drug-resistant species, according to a study published in the September issue of the American Journal of Infection Control.

Yonit Wiener-Well, M.D., from the Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School in Jerusalem, and colleagues investigated the rate of contamination with potentially pathogenic bacteria of uniforms worn by hospital staff and the bacterial load of the microorganisms. Cultures were taken from physician and nurse uniforms by pressing standard blood agar plates at the abdominal zones, sleeve ends, and pockets, and each participant filled out a questionnaire.

The investigators found that 238 samples from 135 personnel were collected, including those from 75 nurses (55 percent) and 60 physicians (45 percent). A total of 79 participants (58 percent) claimed to change their uniforms daily and 104 (77 percent) reported their attire hygiene levels to be fair to excellent. Potentially pathogenic bacteria were isolated from at least one site of the uniforms in 85 participants (63 percent) and from 119 (50 percent) of the samples. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria were isolated from samples of 21 (14 percent) of the nurses' uniforms and six (6 percent) of the physicians' uniforms.

"We isolated potentially pathogenic bacteria from 63 percent of sampled uniforms, with no significant differences between nurses and physicians or between staff from medical departments and surgical departments," the authors write.

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