Microbial contamination on high-touch hospital surfaces persists despite strict compliance with recommended disinfection protocols, according to a new study.

Researchers at the Central Texas Veterans Healthcare System collected samples from 400 high-touch surfaces including workstations, breakroom tables, bed rails, dummies used for resuscitation training and computer keyboards at nurse’s stations.

A total of 60 types of bacteria were identified across all samples including Enterococcus, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus, Escherichia coli, and Klebsiella aerogenes.

All the 400 surfaces tested were found to harbour bacteria with the most diverse types being identified on the dummies and bed rails. And around half of the bacteria identified were also found in clinical samples collected from patients.

“It is a continuing frustration to healthcare professionals that HAIs persist despite rigorous attention to disinfection practices,” said Piyali Chatterjee, research scientist at Central Texas Veterans Healthcare System and senior author of the paper.

“Our study clearly shows the bioburden associated with high-touch hospital surfaces and indicates that we must do better in protecting the health of our patients and hospital employees.”

The findings, which were published in the American Journal of Infection Control, indicate that innovative strategies may be needed in order to disinfect surfaces more effectively.

“By understanding the gaps in our current disinfection measures, we can focus on developing more effective protocols and education strategies to prevent the spread of dangerous organisms and better protect patients and healthcare workers from HAIs,” said president of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology Tania Bubb.

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