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Does opening windows reduce infection rates?

  • Comments (25)

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:

 

 

What do you think?

  • Comments (25)

Readers' comments (25)

  • Anonymous

    in reply to the headline question - why not read the research, that's what it is for.

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  • eileen shepherd

    This paper suggests that opening windows makes a difference but it is just one paper and the claims should be discussed.

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  • Anonymous

    There is not one single window that opens in the Unit i work in, they are not designed to open, which is weird and frustrating!

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  • Anonymous

    Anonymous | 14-May-2013 7:06 pm

    They can't risk having windows in case staff are tempted to jump out of them.

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  • Anonymous

    a patient on my ward on the 7th floor jumped out of the window at 6 am, just an hour before the day shift arrived.

    there is a lot of air pollution in hospitals in city centres so it is not sure that having windows open is such a good idea. our 20 to 25 bedded ward was so hot and stuffy in the summer and we had to share two fans between several rooms and our office. fans aren't a great idea either for preventing cross infection. maybe the fancy and very expensive dyson ones which work on a different principle are better? I have no experience of these.

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  • Anonymous

    coughs and sneezes spread diseases
    open up the window and they all fly out

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  • Anonymous

    Anonymous | 15-May-2013 6:22 pm

    fine as long as patients and staff don't fly out as well!

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  • Anonymous

    our windows only open a few inches, all us fatty lazy lard-arsed nurses won't have enough room to fly away to the land of make believe.

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  • Anonymous

    windows in our trust do not open apart from a couple of inches, as we have had patients hurl themselves out of them in the very distant past.
    I hate them closed, with illnesses and virus' being recirculated by the air conditioning meaning we are more likely to catch them and take them home.
    Good job that they don't open now. The way we are being treated I think the only danger is that nurses will now start hurling themselves out of the windows instead.

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  • Anonymous

    if research (no doubt costing thousands) shows that opening windows reduces infections then why is this being discussed?

    nurses hurling themselves out of windows is the biggest danger as someone else has mentioned.

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