Empty Bed On Hospital Ward

Columbia University researchers have found data from four New York hospitals that show their patient beds are full of germs, despite claims of being disinfected. According to a Tyler Morning Telegraph article, patients are nearly six times more likely to contract a dangerous infection if patients using the beds before them had it.

Meanwhile, Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology reported that being in a bed previously used by a patient with an infection can increase the risk of infection by 583 percent.

And yet, research in the American Journal of Infection Control shows that half of hospital mattresses have drug-resistant bacteria on them.

The Columbia University researchers concluded that “enhanced cleaning measures” are necessary. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concurs, urging more “aggressive” infection control measures. Even the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has joined the fight, warning hospitals (for a second time) about the germs that can build up inside a mattress.

Covers should be routinely removed, so the contents can be inspected. “If blood or body fluids from one patient penetrate and get absorbed in a mattress, the fluids can leak out the next time the mattress is used,”  harming the next patient, according to the FDA.

Hospitals are rushed to turn over patient rooms, but the remedy — according to the Columbia researchers — is for hospitals to adopt high-tech cleaning methods that disinfect an entire room, including the bed, in a few minutes.

“Current standards for cleaning and disinfection” are insufficient, raising the risk of infection 5 to 6 fold," the study said.

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