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Where Pathogens Are Lurking: Infection Control Issues in Hospitals

Oct 17, 2018 3:30:00 PM    posted in Infection Prevention

There are a few places in a hospital environment where handwashing to eradicate bacteria is a no-brainer. Hospital staff are, of course, well in tune with the obvious hotspots where bacteria reside. Handwashing before and after the bathroom, after eating, and on the way in and out of the building are all just part of the job.

Though bacteria lurking in less obvious places can pose serious threats to patient health. With that in mind, consider these surprising potential hiding places for malicious microbes as you structure infection control protocols.


Infection control professionals in hospitals got a bit of a shock earlier this year when a study published in the American Journal of Infection Control  revealed that the curtains hanging in patients' rooms collected and bred MRSA bacteria at an alarming rate. While the study is too small to be definitive, it will certainly get infection control professionals in hospitals thinking.


A routine heart check-up can be a vector for the spread of disease as this recent study published by the Advisory Board found. It came as a surprise to attending physicians, medical residents, and students that the skin-to-metal contact required to use a stethoscope can leave dangerous microbes hanging on to it between patients.

Blood Pressure Cuffs

The study also notes that the hook-and-loop connections, “... on the sleeves collect bacteria and makes the cuffs difficult to sanitize.”

IV Poles and Pumps

Bacteria can cling to the smooth vertical metal of an IV pole just as easily as a flat metal tray or counter top, so IV poles can't be overlooked when assessing potential vectors for the spread of hospital-acquired infections.


Wheelchairs have long been a critical mode of personal transportation for those within hospitals with temporary or permanent issues of mobility. However, with the physical nature of transporting patients in wheelchairs, there is the potential for the transmission of bacteria from hands, to wheels, to armrests. Next-gen mobility scooters may require less physical contact to control – but they too can collect and spread bacteria in the course of a trip from room to room.

Bed Rails

Even though they have hard surfaces, the bed rails are often touched by staff and visitors bringing contaminants of all kinds into the patient area.


Catheterization is critical in the course of treating severe illnesses. Unfortunately, it also poses the risk of introducing a bacterial infection to a patient through a couple of different avenues as this article in the Archives of Internal Medicine indicates. One of which is the transmission of bacteria from the hands of a healthcare provider to the device.

Remote Controls and Handheld Devices

Technology has opened up a whole range of ways to make a hospital stay a little homier. However, the hospital still needs to put a premium on sterility. While personal devices brought in by patients or visitors - and in-hospital remotes for controlling the television - can make a visit to the hospital less scary, they can also pose an infection issue if not adequately addressed.

The First Step to Preventing the Spread of Pathogens …

Managing infection control in hospitals is a massive task; it may even feel insurmountable. Considering the few examples above, how could anyone hope to avoid being an unintentional path of transmission for an uninvited microscopic guest?

Thankfully, there are steps that individuals can take to make sure that – working in conjunction with an appropriate, comprehensive infection prevention strategy – their hands are always helping and not accidentally putting patients at risk.

Understanding and practicing proper hand hygiene is the most important single step any person in a hospital environment can take to do their part against the spread of dangerous bacteria. As a provider of cutting-edge hand protection products, Ventyv™ is committed to helping the healthcare world get its hands around this difficult problem – so patients can be confident that there's no threat hiding in plain sight when they come for the care they need.

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