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Do Christmas decorations pose an infection risk?

  • Comments (9)

Do Christmas decorations pose an infection risk? What do you think?

EXPERT COMMENT

Christmas is a particularly emotive and difficult time for patients to be in hospital and anything that can help in trying to make it a little easier is important.

However, Christmas decorations in clinical areas are a challenge for several reasons i.e. health and safety, fire hazard and infection prevention and control.

Although there is little available evidence either way from an infection prevention and control perspective they have the potential for harbouring dust.

Therefore, they can make cleaning difficult particularly in the event of norovirus outbreaks which are particularly challenging at this time of year. In this event staff would have to be prepared to take down and dispose of decorations as part of the outbreak cleaning protocol.

A common sense approach and discussions with Health and Safety/Fire Advisors/Infection Prevention and Control and staff in clinical areas staff should ensure that suitable decorations can be agreed and placed in appropriate locations.

For example, most trusts advice against using Christmas trees with soil, glass baubles, tinsel, cloth toys or anything that is a fire/health and safety risk or cannot be cleaned or disposed of in accordance with trust policy.

It is important to ensure decorations are suitable for use in mental health and paediatric wards from a health and safety perspective. In mental health and the elderly, decorations are good for orientating patients to time and place.

Julie Hughes is a Nurse Consultant Infection Control/Lecturer, 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust/University of Chester.

 

  • Comments (9)

Readers' comments (9)

  • No! For crying out loud!

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  • Anonymous

    how on earth has anybody survived Christmases Past to live and tell the tale?

    "In mental health and the elderly, decorations are good for orientating patients to time and place."

    more importantly, they might even be helpful for orientating management to time and space although there is probably very little hope there!

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  • Anonymous

    Its a shame that patients have to suffer from policy and procedure. Yes more than likely Christmas decorations can pose a threat to infection control, fire safety and health and safety - however, its bad enough being away from their loved ones at this festive time nevermind having to give up their festive cheer on the ward as well.

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  • Anonymous

    I agree, Anonymous | 13-Dec-2011 12:06 pm

    policy and procedure are very serious, disagreeable, and often hospital induced complaints, for which there is no known effective treatment!

    Does nobody, except the practical and common sense and caring nursing and ward staff, with little clout, think of the positive psychological effects of Christmas cheer with all its traditional trimmings?

    In fact it baffles me completely that the ward staff do not have so little say in what affects the patients in their care 24/24h and on how the ward should be run! After all they are the only ones who possess the full picture.

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  • Every thing carries a 'risk' of infection in patient areas but its the level and magnitude of that risk which is important.

    I would think the patients are more at risk of infection from their visitors over Christmas rather than the decorations - but, as with the decorations, that risk may be outweighed by the cheeriness associated with the overt celebration or 'tinsel' factor1

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  • Anonymous

    Watch out for "Christmas Tree Syndrome"

    Oh Dear! Here we go again.

    Maybe we should give up Christmas all together. It could be bad for your health, not to mention the hazards of the decorations and dangers which may be lurking in all the other trimmings. See today Telegraph online!

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/topics/christmas/8963438/Feeling-under-the-weather-Youve-got-Christmas-Tree-Syndrome.html

    “Feeling under the weather? You've got Christmas Tree Syndrome
    Christmas trees could be to blame for a range of health complaints over the festive season, according to new research.
    The team analysed clippings from 28 Christmas trees including needles and bark, from a range of species, and found 53 cases of mould Photo: REUTERS
    By Jasper Copping
    8:00AM GMT 18 Dec 2011

    Don't be too quick to judge those who feel under the weather over the festive period – rather than seasonal overindulgence, it could be their Christmas tree making them ill.”

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  • Anonymous

    OMG - whatever next?? We'll soon have no natural immune system left!!

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  • One is more likely to get an infection from mobile phones that are not cleaned( and I have heard people tallking on them in the loo), pens that are chewed-shared and thrown to the floor and handbags that placed on patients beds. Oh and how many health care workers wear wrist watches, oh and dry our hands on hand towels that are stored on the floor! I might also dispute the fact that flowers are barred because of the infection risk. If patients are happy, they will fight infection and get bettter quicker.

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  • Anonymous

    Of course they do! Just like everything else in the ward, hospital, world....

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