Not just ‘inert’ – some materials are bacterial reservoirs

It’s amazing how much plastic is used in healthcare, when you consider that, being a hydrocarbon, plastics are “food” for many bacteria.


Have a look at this (admittedly fairly old, but still quite relevant) paper, which examined bacterial survival on plastic surfaces and synthetic fabrics:

“The transfer of gram-positive bacteria, particularly multi-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), among patients is a growing concern. One critical aspect of bacterial transfer is the ability of the microorganism to survive on various common hospital surfaces…. in this study indicate that staphylococci and enterococci can survive for extended periods of time on materials commonly worn by patients and health care workers and on various other fabrics in the hospital environment.

…As with the staphylococci, the enterococci lived longer on polyester and polyethylene than on other materials.

….most of the bacteria tested in this study survived longer on polyester than on cotton.

…The polyester tested in this study is the material used at our hospital for privacy drapes, which are handled by both patients and staff when they are drawn around the patient’s bed. Staphylococci and enterococci survived for days to months on this fabric, thereby suggesting that such drapes could act as reservoirs for these bacteria.


Read more:-

Neely AN, Maley MP. Survival of Enterococci and Staphylococci on  Hospital Fabrics and Plastic. Journal of Clinical Microbiology. 2000;38(2):724-726

Building Better Healthcare – intelligent use of materials

One of the UK’s leading microbiologists has claimed that hospital Estates & Facilities Managers are putting aesthetics & cost before patient safety, when specifying fixtures and fittings… even though the cost of these is rapidly eradicated by reduced infection costs.