Workers at Risk of Infection at Hospital Facilities

Columbia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers weigh in on the risk of infections for hospital workers. For many hospital workers, the fear of contracting an infection from an antibiotic- resistant bacteria like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is very real. A recent study suggests changing privacy curtains surrounding hospital beds can reduce these risks.

MRSA Risks

Exposure to MRSA can result in serious physical complications including:

  • Skin infections
  • Sepsis
  • Blood infections
  • Pneumonia
  • Surgical site infections
  • Death

MRSA is most commonly spread through direct contact with an infected wound. Some precautions hospitals usually take to control the spread of MRSA include: performing standard hand hygiene; wearing protective gloves; using mouth and nose protection; wearing gowns; properly handing patient care equipment; following proper laundering procedures for patient linens; placing MRSA infected patients in single patient rooms; limiting patient transport to only medically necessary purposes; limiting group activities when appropriate; and providing sterile environments when possible.

Problems with Privacy Curtains

A new research study suggested privacy curtains in hospital rooms may be creating additional MRSA safety risk for hospital workers. According to researchers, antibiotic-resistant bacteria may be breeding in hospital privacy curtains. These curtains, which are frequently handled by hospital workers throughout the day, have a high rate of cross contamination.

The researchers examined contamination levels of privacy curtains surrounding ten separate hospital beds over a 21-day period. Eight of the beds were patient-occupied with hospital staff frequently opening and closing the curtains. The two control beds were not being used by patients. While none of the patients occupying the rooms had the MRSA bacteria, after being left unwashed for over 14 days, the privacy curtains in over half of the occupied patient rooms tested positive for MRSA.

For hospital workers having direct contact with privacy curtains numerous times throughout the work day, the risk of cross-contamination could be significant. To ensure worker safety, hospital facilities should change or clean hospital privacy curtains on a regular basis.

Preventing Contamination

Privacy curtains are one of the most touched items in a hospital room. Hospital workers generally are less likely to wash their hands when handling an inanimate object like a curtain. To prevent cross contamination associated with the handling of the privacy curtains, hospitals are encouraged to regularly clean or replace the privacy curtains at least every two weeks. Hospital workers should be informed of the risk of cross contamination and encouraged to disinfect after touching privacy curtains. As more hospitals become aware of the problem of privacy curtain cross contamination, researchers expect hospitals and other health care facilities to begin implementing formal privacy curtain hygiene protocols.

When hospitals fail to provide safe working conditions for their employees, injuries and occupational illnesses can result. For hospital workers who frequently handle cross contaminated privacy curtains that are not properly changed or cleaned, that injury could be a MRSA or other Staph infection. Hospital workers who develop physical complications after being exposed to MRSA at work may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits. The first step in recovering for the medical costs and lost wages associated with a work-related injury such as a MRSA infection is to contact an experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyer.

Columbia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Assist Injured Hospital Workers

If you or a loved one has suffered a workplace injury, the dedicated Columbia Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. are here to help. To arrange a free consultation, contact us online or call 803-929-3600 or 866-881-8623 today.

We proudly represent injured workers throughout South Carolina, including those in Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Charleston County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Spartanburg County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County, as well as those in the communities of Columbia, Aiken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, South Carolina.