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

August 12, 2015

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.

Students Fc
TCOM hosting national meeting for osteopathic medical students

By Alex Branch   Student government presidents and vice presidents from every osteopathic medical school in the United States will convene at UNT Health Science Center for their annual national meeting. It’s the first time in 15 years that UNTHSC’s Texas College of Osteopathic Medi...Read more

Jan 15, 2019

Ric Fc
Dr. Robert Richard earns TCOM’s first outstanding preceptor award

By Alex Branch   Robert Richard, DO, told UNT Health Science Center medical student Sarah Hmaidan exactly what she should expect from him as her preceptor. “He told me if he wasn’t inspiring me to be the best doctor I could be or challenging me to see the whole patient, then he was...Read more

Jan 10, 2019

Sidr Fc
Generous gift boosts UNTHSC’s dementia research

By Alex Branch A generous estate gift from a longtime community volunteer whose family was impacted by dementia will establish a $3 million endowed chair to support groundbreaking research into Alzheimer’s disease and other translational research projects at UNT Health Science Center. Si...Read more

Jan 8, 2019

For Fc
UNTHSC appoints new dean of School of Health Professions

By Alex Branch J. Glenn Forister, PhD, PA-C, believes in the value of high-performing teams, and that’s what he sees at UNT Health Science Center. The institution’s One University concept, values-based culture and focus on extraordinary teamwork are concepts that led Dr. Forister to accept...Read more

Jan 7, 2019