Although hospital floors have been considered inconsequential in the spread of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), research finds that floors are responsible for spreading pathogens to high-touch items that are dropped or stored on the floor.
The study was conducted in five U.S. hospitals without the knowledge of hospital personnel, Healthcare Design reports. Cleaners washed the floors of occupied patient rooms using quaternary ammonium-based disinfectant only when they were visibly soiled or when a patient was discharged. Researchers then took cultured samples of the floor to check them for pathogens. They found traces of C. diff on the floors, along with methicillin resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), and Vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE).
Researchers also found the pathogens on high-touch items that had come in contact with the floor, including clothes, cell phone chargers, call buttons, blood pressure cuffs, bed linens, and towels. They stressed that as high-touch items often end up on hospital floors, these items need to be cleaned and health care workers need to change their gloves and wash their hands after picking items up from the floor.