(IOWA CITY, Iowa) -- A new study shows that hospital privacy curtains are full of germs and may give patients more than privacy.
For this study, researchers swabbed more than 40 privacy curtains, twice a week over a three-week period at the University of Iowa Hospital. Their results, presented at an infectious disease conference, showed that virtually all of the curtains were contaminated with bacteria, including the potentially deadly antibiotic-resistant strain know as MRSA.
Some curtains were contaminated with the same germs over and over. Even new curtains became contaminated within a week.
In addition to being difficult to disinfect, most privacy curtains hang for a long time,
The study's authors stress the need to reduce the risk of infecting patients with this bacteria. The first, most practical and inexpensive defense is by making sure health care workers wash their hands between pulling the curtain and interacting with the patient. Second, patients should take an active role in protecting themselves. They should not be afraid to speak up if they notice the doctor or nurse did not wash their hands after touching the privacy curtain.
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