According to a new study, potentially deadly bacteria including MRSA is regularly carried around hospitals by nurses and doctors through their clothing and swipe cards. Researchers in Israel found that 60% of doctor uniforms and 65% of nurse uniforms contained potential dangerous bacteria based on swab samples taken from their clothing. Many of the samples also included methicillin-resistance Staphylococcus areus (or MRSA). As a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer, I am troubled by the fact more is not done to stop the spread of these potential deadly hospital-acquired infections which are usually preventable.
MRSA is a type of infection caused by a strain of bacteria that has become resistant to antibiotics normally used to treat staff infections. MRSA really only occurs in people who have been in hospitals or other healthcare facilities. MRSA symptoms depend upon the body part that is infected. Although most of these infections are not life threatening, some can be fatal. MRSA is spread by contact--such as from a doctor to a patient.
Given the spread of MRSA in hospitals, proper hygiene in hospitals is imperative to reduce, if not eliminate, the spread of MRSA and other hospital-related infections. Of course, proper hand hygiene must be practiced by all medical staff. Many patients now ask doctors and nurses if they washed their hands just before coming into their room. Few if any would even think to ask about a doctor or nurses clothing. Worse still, hands and clothing are not the only means by which hospital-acquired infections may be spread by medical staff to patients.
According to another study, doctors are unknowingly spreading potentially dangerous infections in the hospital from their swipe cards. Researchers examined and tested the swipe cards that doctors use in hospitals. They found that one in five swipe cards contained potentially dangerous bacteria including MRSA. With these and other studies showing the regularity by which medical staff spread infection through hospitals, it is time hospitals look beyond just washing hands and sterilizing medical equipment. Hospital clothing and swipe cards are just a few of the objects that hospitals must examine within their facilities as sources of patient infection. Anything short is an open invitation for the continued spread of these dangerous infections.
Posted by: Chicago medical malpractice lawyer Jason M. Kroot
Medical News Today, Hospital Staff Found To Cary MRSA Superbug On Uniforms, Swipe Cards, September 1, 2011
Mayo Clinic, MRSA Infection Definition, May 29, 2010.
WebMD, Understanding MRSA Infection, October 27, 2010.