Healthcare workers overlooking surface contamination hazards

By: August 15th, 2011 Email This Post Print This Post

Healthcare workers (HCW) may not appreciate the infection transmission risks when touching potentially contaminated surfaces.

A North Carolina State University study published in the August issue of the American Journal of Infection Control surveyed nurses, infection preventionists, and hospital environmental services managers to correlate hand hygiene knowledge with perceptions on infection transmission.

Each worker assessed 16 real-life simulations designed to test their perceived risk of infection, based on their level of hygiene knowledge as well as their internal health locus of control—a measurement of how much influence they perceive themselves as having over controlling the spread of infection.

The study found that across all knowledge levels workers perceived surfaces as safer to touch than patient skin, in spite of research that has proven touching one contaminated surface can spread bacteria to up to the next seven surfaces touched.

“Despite the dangers that fomites present, this knowledge may not be common enough among HCWs for them to understand the level of risk when touching surfaces and then touching patients,” say the authors.

Click here for the study’s abstract.


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