Study: Bacteria found on high-touch areas in health facilities


Share this story:
Cdiff-study-UNTHSC-WEB

A germ that causes fever and nausea can be found at health care facilities on bed rails, computer keyboards and door handles, according to a collaborative project from UNT Health Science Center and the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council Foundation.

The study recommends more vigorous cleaning and infection control measures in health care facilities, and awareness campaigns about the bacteria, known as Clostridium difficile or C. diff. It also shows that clinics and hospitals need effective infection-control plans that prevent workers — who frequently touch keyboards and light switches — from spreading the bacteria to patients, said Kim Fulda, DrPH, Associate Professor of Family Medicine.

“This is the first study to look at environmental sampling of C. diff in both inpatient and outpatient settings,” said Dr. Fulda, who also is interim Executive Director of the North Texas Primary Care Practice-Based Research Network (NorTex). “We found that outpatient clinical settings had a higher prevalence of C. diff than hospitals.”

Cases of people stricken with C.diff are on the rise in North Texas. Because the illness most often occurs in people taking antibiotics or acid-suppressing medication, or who have contact with a contaminated environment, the collaboration focused on preventing infections in hospitals, primary care outpatient clinics and long-term care facilities. It was funded by a $236,000 contract from the DFW Hospital Council Foundation.

Health Science Center personnel collected 1,387 environmental samples from 33 facilities. The overall prevalence of C. diff was 5.2 percent, with the highest occurrences found in long-term care facilities, followed by clinics and then hospitals. High-touch areas like bed rails, bathroom faucets, sink handles and computer keyboards showed the highest prevalence, ranging from 5 percent to 9 percent.

The environmental samples were collected by NorTex, part of the UNTHSC Texas Prevention Institute. Joon Lee, PhD, Assistant Professor of Environmental and Occupation Health, and Jerry Simecka, PhD, Professor of Cell Biology and Immunology, provided expertise in this multidisciplinary project.

As part of the project, DFW Hospital Council Foundation launched a regional television, social media and website campaign about C. diff. From the hospital foundation, Sushma Sharma, PhD, Director of Public and Population Health, and Patti Taylor, MHA, RRT, Director of Quality and Patient Safety, assisted in the project.

***

This project was funded by a Dallas- Fort Worth Hospital Council Foundation contract with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Ser­vices (CMS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Contract Number HHSM-500-2012-0025 Hospital Engagement Network Contractor for Partnership for Patients Initiative.

Share this story:

Zoonotic Disease Fair to cover important topics for Texas

By Sally Crocker   UNTHSC students, faculty and staff are invited to the 2nd Annual Zoonotic Disease Fair from noon to 3 p.m. on Nov. 21 to learn about some of the common diseases found in Texas that can be passed from animals to humans. “It pays to be aware,” said public health st...Read more

Nov 16, 2017

A champion of the underdog

By Alex Branch   Amy Raines Milenkov, MPH, DrPH, has always cared about the underdog. She cared about the low-income women and children afflicted with HIV or AIDS who she helped as a social worker in the 1990s, when life-saving drug cocktails were only emerging. She cared for the vu...Read more

Nov 13, 2017

Using teamwork to train better healthcare leaders

By Jan Jarvis Catherine Daniel, a first-year student in the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, clicked on the keys of her laptop, searching for data about a program to address infant mortality in Tarrant County. “There needs to be a better way of identifying high risk people,” she ...Read more

Nov 13, 2017

Palladino Family

Student vets proud to see UNTHSC designated a Purple Heart University

By Alex Branch Gary and Aundrea Palladino met while serving in the U.S. Air Force as pharmacy technicians at Joint Base Andrews in Washington, D.C. At the three pharmacies on base, Gary and Aundrea filled prescriptions and managed inventory, compounded IV and topical medication orders, and...Read more

Nov 9, 2017