Healthcare workers frequently contaminate their gloves and gowns during everyday care of nursing homes residents with drug resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA, according to a US study.
Researchers observed 13 community-based nursing homes, evaluating 403 residents for MRSA colonisation and then assessing whether interactions with healthcare workers lead to contamination of their gowns and gloves by MRSA bacteria.
“We know that healthcare workers serve as a vector for MRSA transmission”
The study found 28% of residents (113 out of 403) harboured MRSA. Glove contamination was higher than gown contamination (24% versus 14%) reinforcing the importance of hand hygiene between residents to prevent transmission of MRSA.
High-risk activities linked to glove or gown contamination included dressing residents, transferring residents, providing hygiene such as brushing teeth or combing hair, and changing linens and diapers, said the study authors in the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.
They noted that healthcare workers do not wear gowns during much of this care because they do not anticipate that their clothing will come into contact with body secretions during this care.
“One in four nursing home residents harbour MRSA in some settings. We know that healthcare workers serve as a vector for MRSA transmission from one resident to another in settings such as nursing homes,” said Mary-Claire Roghmann, lead author of the study.
“The use of barrier precautions, such as gowns and gloves, limit this transmission. The goal of our research was to determine the most important times to wear gowns and gloves in nursing homes by measuring the risk of MRSA contamination during different types of care,” she said.
“Our study, for the first time, defines the type of care that increases the risk of transmission and suggests modifications to the current indications of gown and glove use,” she added.