Have you ever wondered just how clean the rooms are in your hospital in San Diego County? You probably have little concern about the bed sheets, which are changed every day, or the actual medical equipment that is sterilized frequently. But what about the other, less often addressed surfaces in the room? The privacy curtain hanging in a hospital room is handled by not only doctors and nurses, but also by outside visitors and ill patients themselves on a regular basis. Most of these people probably do not think to wash their hands before and after handling the privacy curtain. In most hospitals, this curtain is rarely changed or cleaned, and it doesn’t take much thought to imagine the multiple germs it could be hiding.
A recent study, funded by a blank check from a company that produces anti-microbial cloth surfaces, confirms your suspicions. It found that a typical hospital in San Diego is extremely likely to have privacy curtains that hold disease-causing bacteria. This study focused its attention on the “leading edge” of each curtain, the surface that is most likely to be touched by hands opening or closing it. There were several different parts to the study:
One part tried to determine what percentage of curtains were contaminated by bacteria. 43 curtains were checked six times each in a three week period, and 41 of them tested positive for a disease-causing bacteria in at least one of the checks. The most dreaded hospital infection, MRSA, showed up on 21 percent of the tested curtains. These results show that, in general, you can assume that the curtain in the room of your hospital in San Diego County may be a dangerous source of disease.
What if the curtain has been washed recently, though? The study also addressed the question of how quickly these curtains become contaminated. Thirteen clean curtains were placed in rooms during the three week period under consideration, and twelve of them showed bacteria contamination within just one week. Apparently, the cleaning frequency needed to keep hospital curtains free of disease is much higher than anyone previously thought.
Unless your local hospital in San Diego County boasts privacy curtains made from state-of-the-art, bacteria resistant materials, it appears that it would be to your benefit to avoid touching them at all costs! At least, be aware of their potential for passing infection, and take all the hand-washing precautions necessary to avoid catching the diseases that are probably lurking among the folds.