Hospital Infection Risk May Be Posed by Uniforms: Study

Uniforms worn by many healthcare personnel carry potentially dangerous germs and bacteria, leading Israeli researchers to suggest that there needs to be a closer look at whether clothing may be a vector for the transmission of hospital infections.

According to a study published in the latest issue of the American Journal of Infection Control, which examined medical scrubs, lab coats and other attire worn by doctors, nurses and other medical industry workers, potentially pathogenic bacteria was found on 63% of the uniforms tested, with the so-called “super bug” MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) found on about 11% of the uniforms.

Researchers took 238 samples from 135 healthcare professionals, including 75 nurses and 60 physicians. Only 79 of the subjects (58%) reported changing their uniform every day, and 77% said their attire had a fair to excellent level of hygiene.

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The study did not examine whether there was any connection between the uniforms and hospital infections, but recommended future research be conducted in that area to see if there is a correlation.

MRSA infections have accounted for more than 60 percent of hospital staph infections in the U.S. in recent years. The CDC reports that about 126,000 hospital MRSA infections occur each year, resulting in about 5,000 deaths. But some researchers suggest that the overall number of deaths from MRSA in the U.S. is closer to 20,000 annually once community-acquired MRSA infections are factored into the equation.

In recent years, there has been an increasing number of hospital infection lawsuits filed throughout the United States, as experts believe that most of these potentially life-threatening infections that develop in hospitals and medical centers can be prevented if steps are taken by the facility and staff.

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