Shortly after being admitted to hospitals, 14 percent of the patient's hands and nostrils abound with antibiotic-resistant super bacteria, a new study suggests.
And it's not just hospital staff who are responsible for the spread – patients are likely to spread the germs in their rooms and to each other.
Antibiotic resistance is considered by the World Health Organization to be one of the biggest public health problems, as the untreatable bugs are becoming more common and can render drugs useless.
Hospitals are known as fertile breeding grounds for dangerous super bacteria, making thorough washing methods more important than ever for patient safety.
But the new pair of studies suggests that hospitals still have a long way to go to keep antibiotic resistance under control.
Hospitals emphasize the importance of hand washing for caregivers, but new research suggests that patients' hands also distribute resistant antibiotics (file)
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), healthcare workers wash their hands only half as often as they should.
Partly as a result of this, about one in 31 patients in a hospital contracts an infection during their stay.
It is an ongoing and exciting battle when patients bring in their own bacteria and infections are treated by doctors and nurses in close contact and spaces are shared by hundreds, if not dozens, of other sick and injured people.
The problem is exacerbated by hasty attempts at solutions. For decades, doctors have prescribed too many antibiotics to treat infections that are often viral, meaning that the drugs are useless to treat them.
And even excessive use of antiseptics has helped bacteria learn & mutate and reproduce the drugs and products designed to kill them.
To get an impression of how superugs were distributed among patients, researchers from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor followed 399 patients in two of their hospitals.
Shortly after the patients were admitted for the first time, the team wiped their hands and nostrils on germs.
To begin with, 14 percent of patients were colonized with bacteria that were resistant to multiple forms of treatment upon arrival – meaning that they were present in their nostrils but did not cause an active infection.
Ten percent of the patients had resistant bacteria that lived on their hands.
Chambers were also tested for bacteria and the team discovered that 29 percent of them had populations of resistant bacteria.
Six percent of patients have new antibiotic-resistant bacteria on their hands during their stay in the two hospitals.
And six patient contracted actual infections. They all received antibiotic-resistant MRSA, which was also detected on hands, nostrils or chambers.
The researchers also looked at how often patients picked up VRE (vancomycin-resistant enterococci) and RGNB (resistant gram-negative bacteria).
MRSA was the most common form of bacteria, but all three were present on the patient's hands, in their nostrils and in their chambers, according to the study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.
Nursing call buttons, bedside controls and bedside tables were probably full of bacteria and the researchers considered them the main culprits for transferring the super boats.
A third of the rooms were contaminated before new patients were settled in it and nearly 40 percent of the patients had matching insects on their hands within 48 hours of arrival. Many acquired the bacteria even faster – within eight hours of ingestion.
& # 39; While the burden of preventing infections has largely been taken over by [health care providers], our study shows that patient hands are an important reservoir and play a crucial role in the transmission of pathogens in the acute care hospital, & the researchers wrote.
& # 39; Patient hand hygiene protocols should therefore be implemented and tested for their ability to reduce environmental pollution, transmission of pathogens and care-related infections, and also to increase meaningful involvement of patients in infection prevention. & # 39;
In short: if you are in a hospital, make sure you do your part and wash your hands well and often.