from Cheng et al. 2015
published in J Hosp Infect 90(3):220-5
DOI 10.1016/j.jhin.2014.12.024

Hand-touch contact assessment of high-touch and mutual-touch surfaces among healthcare workers, patients, and visitors

Inanimate surfaces, and especially surfaces with frequent hand and skin contact, contribute significantly to the transmission of pathogens.

Over a period of 33 days, the observational study was conducted in three hospitals with 30 beds each. One hour per day, two nurses specialised in infection control observed which surfaces in a six-bed patient room were touched by healthcare workers, patients and visitors, and how often. Afterwards, the authors determined ten items that were touched most frequently as well as the surfaces that were mutually touched by all groups. A total of 6 144 hand contacts were observed. The number of episodes of contact with differing surfaces counted in a six-bed room averaged out at 93.1 per hour. Bedside rails were touched most often by all observed person groups (899 hand contacts; 14,6 %; average of 13.6 contacts per hour), followed by bedside tables (812 hand contacts; 13,2 %; average of 12.4 contacts per hour). Patients, visitors and staff mutually touched a total of fifteen differing surfaces. Eight of them were among the ten most often touched items. The authors recommend placing a higher emphasis on frequently touched near-patient surfaces in surface hygiene and hand hygiene training, as these surfaces involve a particular risk of pathogen transmission as they are mutually and often touched by all observed person groups. In addition, Cheng et al. advise to increasingly engage patients and visitors in infection control measures. They should, for example, be pointed to hand hygiene before taking medication or before eating.