By Shefali Luthra
Kaiser Health News
Encouraging doctors and nurses to wash their hands frequently has always been considered an easy and effective way to curb the spread of infection in hospitals and other health facilities.
But a new research letter published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine points to another key group of people who aren’t always keeping their hands so clean and, it turns out, probably should: patients.
Researchers focused on inner-city Detroit and examined patients who went from hospitals to post-acute care facilities — places like rehabilitation centers, skilled-nursing facilities, hospice and long-term care hospitals.
They found that almost one in four adults who left the hospital had on their hands a superbug: a virus, bacteria or another kind of microbe that resists multiple kinds of medicine. While in post-acute care, about 10 percent of patients picked up another superbug. Of those who had superbugs, 67 percent still had them upon being discharged, even if they hadn’t gotten sick.
These findings add to a growing body of research about hand hygiene and the patient’s role in infection transmission, and speak to an underlying problem with health care facilities — they can increase the odds of getting sick. The paper’s authors suggest it highlights a potential, so far underused strategy for addressing that concern: getting patients to wash their hands. Continue reading