A recent study showed viral material on a bedrail in a hospital ward was found throughout the unit a mere ten hours later.
Hospitals are critical for providing healthcare and maintaining the safety and wellness of a community. Because hospitals are where people go when they are sick, most people are also aware that serious infections circulate within those same hospitals. Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) afflict one in 31 hospitalized patients throughout the US every day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc upon health, lives, and global economies, many people have heightened awareness of the easy spread of disease. But in hospitals, even as we wash our hands, viral material is moving rapidly to colonize surfaces in common contact with patients.
In an editorial study published in The Journal of Hospital Infection, researchers used viral material inapplicable to humans to simulate the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Like other viruses, SARS-2 is opportunistic and will spread where hygiene protocols fail.
For this study, researchers placed the viral material on the handrail of a bed in an isolation room intended for critically ill and contagious patients. For the next five days, the study authors sampled 44 designated spots throughout the hospital ward (outside the isolation room) for five days. Findings included the following:
- Within 10 hours, the viral material had spread to 41 percent of the designated testing spots in the hospital unit. It was found on armrests, children’s toys, books, and door handles.
- After three days, the virus had spread to 59 percent of the designated sample sites before the dropping again to infection of 41 percent of the testing sites.
- In the study, there was only one site from which contagion could spread, and that was an inert bedrail. In more common circumstances, a patient with any form of contagious illness is appreciably more dynamic in terms of movement, respiration, and coughing or sneezing.
Viral and bacterial material spreads easily. This study highlights the necessity of appropriate sanitation protocols in hospitals to stop contagion before it impacts those who are counting on their hospital admission to help them feel better—not worse.
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The law firm of Schochor, Staton, Goldberg, and Cardea, P.A. delivers experienced, skilled legal services to those who suffer illness or harm due to a HAI or other medical negligence. With offices in Washington D.C. and Baltimore, we serve patients across the United States. Contact us today or call 410-234-1000 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.