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

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.

Recent News

Jennifer Fix 2 Purple
  • Education
|Jun 18, 2024

Pharmacy technician shortage driving force behind new, online prep course

A self-paced, online Pharmacy Technician Preparation Course is now being offered through The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth as a way to help combat the shortage of pharmacy technicians at hospitals, health systems and retail pharmacies. Recognized by the Pharmacy Tech...
7281bfad 8597 4cef 80de B58ea8a26ab5
  • Community
|Jun 10, 2024

North Texas Asthma Summit to improve asthma outcomes for children

Representatives from 10 North Texas organizations will come together Wednesday with one common goal in mind: improving health outcomes for children with poorly controlled asthma. The goal of the North Texas Asthma Summit is to develop community partnerships to help these children who frequently e...
Dobbs Headshot
  • Our People
|Jun 7, 2024

School of Health Professions welcomes three new staff members

The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth’s School of Health Professions is excited to announce three new staff members in the dean’s office. Christa Lo, DHSc, MPAS, PA-C, joins SHP as associate dean. In her role, she will assist in overseeing the school’s academic...
Drwhite
  • Our People
|Jun 6, 2024

TCOM Alumnus Dr. Frederick White receives the Gold Medal Award for Distinguished Service from the AOCR

In recognition of his outstanding leadership, dedication and service, Frederick E. White, DO, FAOCR, a 1977 graduate from the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine at The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth, was selected as the recipient of the American Osteopathic College ...