Study: Hospital Sinks Next to Patient Toilets May Harbor Dangerous Bacteria

A new study has found that sinks located next to patient toilets in hospital rooms are far more likely to harbor dangerous bacteria than those sinks located closer to the room's entry door, according to an Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) news release.

The research, published in the American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC), was performed in the 26-bed medical intensive care unit of a 600-bed Wisconsin hospital. It found that, of samples tested, 87% of the unit’s patient sinks next to toilets tested positive for Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase (KPC) while only about 22% of sink drains located closer to the entry door of the room tested positive for KPC.

Furthermore, researchers found that in four of five rooms in which the entry-door sink tested positive, the sink near the toilet was also positive. This, the researchers suggest, points to a potential source for in-room cross-contamination.  

In the news release, the study authors are quoted as saying, "This study, if validated, could have major implications for infection control. If sinks next to toilets are indeed a reservoir for KPC, additional interventions — such as modified hand hygiene practices and sink disinfection protocols — may be needed to stem the risk of transmission among healthcare providers and patients alike."

Despite the high presence of KPC in the hospital's medical intensive care unit, the release noted that the unit did not have any documented interactions with KPC-producing organisms within the past year.

Influenza Activity Hits Seasonal High; 28 Pediatric Deaths Recorded

Influenza-like illness (ILI) has reached its highest mark this flu season, according to the latest FluView report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

For the week ending February 2, the proportion of people seeing their healthcare provider for ILI reached 4.3%. That's an increase over the previous week (3.8%). It is also above the national baseline of 2.2%, but substantially lower than the 7.5% peak recorded last season. The national percentage of patient visits to healthcare providers for ILI reported each week is calculated by combining state-specific data weighted by state population.

Unfortunately, the latest report brought the news of four new flu-related pediatric deaths, bringing the total to 28 flu-related deaths in children for the 2018-2019 flu season.

H1N1 viruses have been the most commonly identified flu viruses nationally, but H3N2 viruses have predominated in the southeastern region of the United States.

CDC stated it expects flu activity to remain elevated for a number of weeks and advised anyone 6 months or older who has not yet been vaccinated this season to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

January 2019 Issue of Infection Prevention & Control Newsletter Published

The January 2019 issue of the ICCS Infection Prevention & Control Newsletter has published.

The issue includes tips on skip prep, peel pouches and enzymatic detergents and reports on innovations, AORN guidelines changes, virtual tool for cancer patients, dangers of infection during delivery and antibiotic resistance.

Access the latest issue of our infection prevention newsletter.

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Joint Commission Launches Infection Prevention Speak Up Campaign


The Joint Commission has launched a new Speak Up campaign on infection prevention.

"Speak Up To Prevent Infection" offers free, downloadable materials for consumers and healthcare providers to strengthen patient involvement in their own care. The campaign focuses on ways to prevent the risk and spread of infection. They cover hand hygiene, avoiding others when ill, covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and keeping vaccinations current.

Educational resources available include an infographic, video and a guide to help providers effectively use the infographic and video as part of their infection prevention program.

The Speak Up program, launched in 2002, is used in more than 70 countries. As an acronym, SPEAK UP stands for:

  • Speak up

  • Pay attention

  • Educate yourself

  • Advocates (family members and friends) can help

  • Know about your new medicine

  • Use a quality health care organization 

  • Participate in all decisions about your care

Learn more about Speak Up.

CDC's Virtual Tool Reduces Infection Risk for Cancer Patients

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Foundation recently announced the launch of a virtual tool designed to help cancer patients reduce their infection risk.

The educational tool uses virtual human technology to strengthen patient-provider conversations about a chemotherapy side effect that may increase infection risk. Known as neutropenia, it is a decrease in the number of white blood cells — the body's main defense against infection. Chemotherapy kills cancer cells as well as white blood cells.

The new tool, called TINA, is a free mobile app available for Apple and Android devices. It can also be accessed via web browser. TINA features two role-play conversations in which providers and patients interact with fully articulated and emotionally responsive virtual humans.

The conversations available are:

  • Training for Infection and Neutropenia Awareness (TINA) — Offers providers a training environment to practice conversations with cancer patients about neutropenia.

  • Talking about Infection and Neutropenia Awareness (TINA) — A virtual provider answers patient questions about infection risk how they can protect themselves. 

"People dealing with a cancer diagnosis are incredibly overwhelmed with information, yet learning about the steps they can take to lower their risk of infection during chemotherapy is critical," said Lisa Richardson, MD, MPH, director of CDC's Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, in a news release. "TINA is the first-ever tool developed to engage both patients and providers in an educational and informative way. Our hope is that TINA can help facilitate more effective communication about this serious side effect of chemotherapy."