Cross-contamination is a prevalent problem, mainly in hospitals. According to recent reports from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hospital-acquired infections now affect one in 25 patients. A new Sunnybrook-led study of three large urban hospitals finds that elevator buttons are more likely to be colonized by bacteria than toilet surfaces. Published online in Open Medicine Journal, the study reminds patients as well as healthcare providers of the importance of maintaining hygiene.
A total of 120 elevator buttons and 96 toilet surfaces were swabbed over separate intervals at 3 tertiary care hospitals on weekdays and weekends. The surfaces in men’s restrooms near the elevators were also swabbed. The prevalence of bacteria colonization of elevator buttons was 61%, compared to 43% of the toilet surface samples.
The most common form of bacteria found on the buttons was coagulase-negative staphylococcus. Other bacteria forms that were frequent include – Enterococcus and Pseudomonas species.
Several strategies were suggested by the authors to reduce the frequency of bacterial colonization on commonly touched surfaces such as – using alcohol-based hand sanitizer before and after touching the buttons, or avoiding touching them altogether by using the tip of a pen or elbow. It was also noted that educating the public about the importance of hand hygiene when in a hospital may also help reduce the rate of bacteria colonization.
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