Comfortable hospital bed and curtains

MRSA and Curtains in Healthcare

  November 7, 2018

By Cathryn Jakicic

Protecting the health of people who work in and visit institutional and commercial facilities is a top priority for facility managers. The task is complicated by the occasional resurgence of airborne diseases and infections transmitted by contact. For health care facilities, infections can present an especially tough challenge.

Consider the threat of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Becker's Clinical Leadership & Infection Control recently reported that privacy curtains in hospitals can harbor high levels of MRSA.

A study published in the American Journal of Infection Control tracked the contamination level of 10 freshly laundered privacy curtains at a hospital in Winnipeg, Canada. The curtains had minimal contamination when they were first hung, but curtains in patient rooms became increasingly contaminated over time. In two weeks, 87.5 percent of the curtains tested positive for MRSA.

"We know that privacy curtains pose a high risk for cross-contamination because they are frequently touched but infrequently changed," says Kevin Shek, the study’s lead author, in a report by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).

Says Janet Haas, APIC’s president, "Keeping the patient's environment clean is a critical component in preventing healthcare-associated infections. Because privacy curtains could be a mode of disease transmission, maintaining a schedule of regular cleaning offers another potential way to protect patients from harm while they are in our care.”

Cathryn Jakicic is healthcare industries editor of For more information on hospital campuses and other medical facilities, click here.


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