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One-third of medical staff cross-contaminate bacteria

Some healthcare workers in California and elsewhere could be incorrectly removing personal protective garments and accidentally contaminating their clothing and other items with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. A new study showing this was published in the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

For the study, researchers observed 125 healthcare professionals working in four adult intensive care units in a hospital for six months. These professionals included 24 physicians and 83 nurses. Half of the participants had been formally trained in the proper use of personal protective equipment when dealing with Ebola patients in the last 12 months. In addition, 90 percent of participants had been trained on the proper way to don and doff personal protective equipment in the last five years.

Over the study period, the participants cared for 95 patients who may have had contact with MRSA or other antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The researchers found that over one-third of the participants became contaminated with organisms resistant to multiple antibiotics while caring for one of these patients. Specifically, four participants tested positive for organisms on their hands, three tested positive for organisms on their clothing or jewelry, three more tested positive for organisms on their stethoscopes and two tested positive for organisms on their cellphones. Meanwhile, 39 percent of participants made two or more doffing errors after caring for a patient. The authors of the study said they hope their findings help healthcare professionals become better at avoiding in-hospital cross-contamination.

Cross-contamination can cause patients to be exposed to dangerous pathogens during their stay in the hospital. If a patient becomes ill from this exposure, he or she could have grounds to file a medical malpractice lawsuit seeking compensation for damages. A personal injury attorney may evaluate a victim's case and recommend the appropriate course of legal action.

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