Køge Hospital, Denmark
When patients inherit curtains they also inherit bacteria
Hospital hygiene is in the spotlight, especially bed hygiene. But what about patient screens? Studies show that the curtains between patients carry large numbers of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Providing hygienic patient screens is therefore a vital step in the battle against hospital infections.
It is estimated that one in 10 Danes who are admitted into hospitals is affected by a hospital infection. In most cases these infections are caused by bacteria such as staphylococcus and Escherichia coli.
Although new patients are given clean bed linen and clean beds, the curtain screens are not taken down and washed. But these curtains often hide many infectious bacteria. So when new patients inherit previous patients’ curtains, they are also at risk of inheriting their bacteria.
HYGIENIC ALTERNATIVES TO CURTAINS
There is clearly a need for more hygienic patient screens, and Silentia folding screens are therefore finding their way into more and more hospitals around the world. Their smooth, durable surfaces can be cleaned and disinfected in situ and can be included in the daily cleaning routine, along with beds, walls and floors.
A growing number of Danish hospitals are investing in Silentia’s folding screens because they are hygienic and often more practical and versatile in daily use. One example is in the anaesthesiology department at Køge Hospital, where Silentia screens have recently been installed as the ideal solution for the recovery ward.
Ward nurse Tina Buggeskov clearly prefers the folding screens to curtains, because of their simplicity and hygiene.
“The screen solution we got from Silentia is very flexible and I think it works really well. The screens are easy to clean, so they provide a more hygienic solution than curtains,” says Tina Buggeskov, who also has good experience with Silentia screens from her previous job at Næstved Hospital.
CURTAINS A NEGLECTED SOURCE OF INFECTION
Research in the U.S. has shown that curtains used to provide screening between patients quickly become contaminated with infectious bacteria. In 2011, researchers from the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine conducted a study of the spread of bacterial contamination on curtains. They tested 43 curtains twice a week for three weeks. The curtains were spread between 30 different medical and surgical wards. The results showed that 26 per cent of the curtains contained antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, and 44 per cent contained Enterococcus bacteria, some of which were resistant to antibiotics.
Patient screens are handled many times each day by staff, patients and relatives, but many people are unaware that they are a source of infection. Every time that staff attend to a patient and pull the curtains in and out they get bacteria on their hands and risk transferring these bacteria to other patients. Even when the curtains are washed regularly it does not help a great deal. The researchers also tested 13 completely new curtains at a hospital, and within a week 12 of the curtains were infected with bacteria. Improved hand hygiene does not solve the problem; more hygienic screening is what is needed, according to the researchers.
SILENTIA SCREENS – DESIGNED WITH HEALTH IN MIND
• The smooth, hard laminate surface is quick and easy to clean.
• Materials are resistant to disinfectants and chlorine-based detergents.
• Stains and marks are more obvious on the smooth surfaces than on curtains and can quickly be washed off in situ.
• Wheels can easily be removed and washed in a dishwasher.
• Hinges have been specially developed to prevent gathering dirt or bacteria.
Read the full case study as a PDF document: