One of the major purposes of a hospital is to help contain disease, and keep it from spreading so that patients don’t become sicker, and hospital staff don’t get sick themselves.
Unfortunately, the threat of infection is often rampant, and is difficult to control. And one of the surprising reasons why is due to the clothing that many healthcare practitioners wear on the job.
Apparently, even when nurses don scrubs that have antibacterial properties, this still does not do everything to prevent the bacteria contamination from occurring.
This conclusion was brought to light after a a group of researchers from Duke University Hospital began studying the effects of nurses’ clothing on the spreading of bacteria.
By following 40 different nurses, who each wore three types of scrubs across three 12-hour consecutive shifts, the researchers were able to study how well the clothing stood up to disease. The researchers also took cultures of the environment, patients, and nurses’ scrubs before and after every shift.
However, upon studying the results of the study, the researchers came to a surprising conclusion. The evidence shows there is no distinguishable difference in the amount of contamination between the pairs of scrubs.
According to the evidence, scrubs contain new bacteria during 16% of shifts, even when the nurses need to wear gloves and gowns. Staphylococcus aureus (including MRSA) was one of the most common pathogens on the scrubs.
This is scary news for patients and families of patients, as this may alter their perception of the cleanliness of hospitals and other medical facilities.
“There is no such thing as a sterile environment,” said Anderson. “Bacteria and pathogens will always be in the environment. Hospitals need to create and use protocols for improved cleaning of the healthcare environment, and patients and family members should feel empowered to ask healthcare providers if they are doing everything they can to keep their loved one from being exposed to bacteria in the environment.”
Until then, the authors of the study recommend frequent hand washing, especially while entering and exiting rooms. They also recommend wearing gloves and gowns – even when the nurse is not having direct contact with the patient.