Hospital Floors May Be Overlooked as Infection Risks, Authors Say

Clostridium difficile is most common pathogen

Hospital room floors may be overlooked as sources of infection, according to a study published in the March issue of the American Journal of Infection Control. Because items in a patient’s room may touch the floor, pathogens can rapidly move to the hands and high-touch surfaces throughout a hospital room, the authors assert.

In the study, Abhishek Deshpande, MD, PhD, and his colleagues cultured 318 floor sites from 159 patient rooms (two sites per room) in five Cleveland-area hospitals. The hospital rooms included both Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) isolation rooms and non-CDI rooms. The researchers also cultured hands (gloved and bare) as well as high-touch surfaces, such as clothing, call buttons, medical devices, linens, and medical supplies.

The investigators found that floors in patients’ rooms were often contaminated with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), and C. difficile, with the latter being the most frequently recovered pathogen in both CDI isolation rooms and non-CDI rooms.

Of 100 occupied rooms surveyed, 41% percent had one or more high-touch objects in contact with the floor. These included personal items, medical devices, and supplies. MRSA, VRE, and C. difficile were recovered from six (18%), two (6%), and one (3%) bare or gloved hands that handled the items.

“Efforts to improve disinfection in the hospital environment usually focus on surfaces that are frequently touched by the hands of health care workers or patients,” the researchers wrote. “Although health care facility floors are often heavily contaminated, limited attention has been paid to disinfection of floors because they are not frequently touched. The results of our study suggest that floors in hospital rooms could be an underappreciated source for dissemination of pathogens and are an important area for additional research.”

Source: Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology; February 28, 2017.