Microbial Burden of Objects in ICU Rooms

Salgado CD, Sepkowitz KA, Plaskett T, John JF, Cantey JR, Attaway HH, Steed LL, Michels HT, Schmidt MG.

Poster presented at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC), October 2008.

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Background: The role of the environment for microbe transmission in hospitals has not been adequately described.

Methods: Objects (Obs: bed rails, overbed tray, chairs, call button, data device, & IV pole) in randomly selected ICU rooms (rms) in 3 hospitals (A, B & C) were sampled by sterile wipes and the Microbial Burden (MB) determined as colony forming units (cfu)/100cm2. The MB of the rm was the sum of the MB of the obs in that rm.

Results: 1760 obs in 160 rms were sampled (660 obs in 60 rms in A & B; 440 obs in 40 rms in C). The mean (m) MB of the rm was 16,885 cfu/100cm2. Bed rails had the highest mMB comprising 58% of the MB in A, 49% in B, and 89% in C. Obs in close proximity to the patient (pt) had significantly higher mMBs compared to other obs in the rm; bed rails, call button, and chair at A (p 0.04 to <0.0001); bed rails, call button, chair, and data device at B (p 0.01 to 0.0001); bed rails, and chair at C (p 0.03 to 0.0002). Staphylococcus was the predominant organism isolated from each ob and each rm comprising 65% of the mMB in A, 73% in B, and 60% in C. MRSA, VRE, and gram negatives were isolated but were generally <5% of the mMB.

Conclusions: Obs found in ICU rms can serve as a reservoir for spread of microbes, particularly staphylococci. Obs in close proximity to pts pose the greatest risk. Strategies are needed to reduce potential spread from these obs.