We reported this week that the chance of infection in wards varies dramatically depending on whether nursing staff leave the windows open. A study by the University of Leeds and Bradford Teaching Foundation Trust looked at airflow in a disused “Nightingale” ward using tracer gases to simulate the spread of airborne infections.
They found ventilation in the ward was generally when windows were left open, keeping the danger of airborne infection low. But risks increased fourfold when the windows were closed.
Lead investigator Cath Noakes, from Leeds University, said: “These wards are still in operation and, although they have often been subdivided into smaller areas with six-eight beds, their ventilation and structure is still fundamentally the same.
“People are being told to seal up their buildings to save energy. If you do that without alternative ventilation systems, you could be increasing the airborne infection risk significantly,” she said.
The story produced an interesting response on Twitter:
@eileenshepherdgreat story …just goes to show that some of the old ways are still good Even open my windows at home after bed making !
— AgencyNurse(@AgencyNurse) May 13, 2013
@eileenshepherdFlorence was right all those years ago. High and low level ventilation (windows) evident in many Nightingale designs.
— Gary Thirkell (@pollygary) May 13, 2013