Medical Care

Bacteria Hides in Hospitals

Every day, more than 200 Americans die due to healthcare-associated hospital infectionsand about one in 25 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection. Here, from Abbott Diabetes Care, is a  list of six places where bacteria hide in the hospitals and ways to prevent the bacteria from infecting you.

FlowersWater and natural sugars found in the stems create the perfect environment for growing bacteria. One study explored 60 vases of flowers in a hospital and found 41 different bacterial species, including 12 species of a particular gram-negative bacteria that can cause infections of the skin, blood, and lungs. Interestingly, different flower types carried different bacteria. Solution: Ask family and friends to bring cards and photos to hang on the walls.

Blood pressure cuffs– More than one-quarter of blood pressure cuffs contained bacteria. With the highest rates of contamination, 83%, occurring on the inner side of BP cuffs kept in intensive care units. Solution: Following good hand washing practices, following facility practices and standards of care, and the use of blood pressure cuff barriers are all options to decrease the transmission of pathogens.

Glucose testing strips– Bacteria have been found in between 25 and 78% of hospital test strips used to monitor people with diabetes and other patients, such as pregnant women, who need their blood sugar monitored. Because blood glucose testing is one of the most commonly performed tests in acute care hospitals, contamination of these strips may put millions of patients at greater risk of contracting colds, flus and possibly even hepatitis Band MRSA each year. Solution: Request that health care professionals open a new vial of test strips for you or individually foil-wrapped test strips, FreeStyle Precision Pro system, that minimize the risk of contamination.

Elevator buttonsIn one study, 61% of hospital elevator buttons tested were colonized with bacteria. Interestingly, researchers compared the elevator buttons with toilet surfaces and found bacteria on only 43% of toilets.Solution: Use hand sanitizer when you get off any elevators.

Door knobs and hospital privacy curtainsIn one hospital study, 27% of door handles were contaminated by MRSA or other bacteria and another study showed that at least 22% of hospital privacy curtains were contaminated. Solution: Wash your hands after touching door knobs or curtains, and avoid brushing against or leaning on curtains.

Abbott Diabetes Care, based in Alameda, Calif., is a leader in developing, manufacturing and marketing glucose monitoring systems designed to help people better manage their diabetes. Additional information about Abbott Diabetes Care may be found at   

Abbott is a global healthcare company devoted to improving life through the development of products and technologies that span the breadth of healthcare. With a portfolio of leading, science-based offerings in diagnostics, medical devices, nutritionals and branded generic pharmaceuticals, Abbott serves people in more than 150 countries and employs approximately 77,000 people.

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