The curtains that divide the beds in hospitals are breeding grounds for bacteria and offer a home to numerous superbugs. These are the findings of a research team from the University of Michigan, who swabbed the edges of curtains dividing hospital beds where they were most touched.
The team looked at 1,500 samples from the privacy curtains and found more than 20 percent contained drug-resistant bacteria.
“We were surprised to see that multi-drug-resistant organisms, especially VRE, shed by patients routinely contaminate their privacy curtains,” said lead researcher Kristen Gibson from the University of Michigan’s Department of Internal Medicine.
“These pathogens on privacy curtains often survive and have the potential to transfer to other surfaces and patients. As privacy curtains are used all over the world, it’s a global issue,” she added.
The team found that a full six percent of privacy curtains contain MRSA, a killer superbug which cannot be treated using standard antibiotics, while a further nine percent contain a bacteria called vancomycin-resistant enterococci, or VRE, which can cause blood and urinary infections.
Presenting their findings at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in Amsterdam, the researchers said they found no difference in curtain contamination between private and shared rooms.
“Further studies are needed to determine conclusively whether contaminated privacy curtains are a source of multi-drug-resistant organism transmission to patients,” they said.