Hospital Sinks, Which Are Supposed to Help Stop the Spread of Infection, Might Actually be Exacerbating the Problem

Turns out that what has long been considered the cornerstone of the fight against hospital infection, sinks where workers can scrub down, might be making the problem worse, STAT reports. To add to the irony, hospitals have made the installation of sinks a priority. But recent studies show that they’ve been linked to the spread of dangerous bacteria around the world. STAT mentions that a hospital in the Netherlands slowed the spread of bacteria by actually taking sinks out of patient rooms in the ICU. Public health officials will need to rethink their approach to stopping the spread of drug-resistant bacteria. 

The problem concerns the water coming out of the facets: It’s filled with bacteria and while that’s always the case with sinks, a bug that poses no threat to a healthy person could be dangerous to someone fighting disease.

“The other problem is that sinks, particularly the pipes that drain them, are ideal places for bacteria to proliferate,” STAT reports. “The bugs form what are known as biofilms—colonies where they gang together and attach to a surface. These water-dwelling bacteria especially like p-traps, the U-shaped bend in pipes that drain the contents of a sink.”

Source: STAT