Study: Hospital Faucets Can Spread Contaminants in Patient Care Areas


The results of a study show that hospital faucet use can spread dangerous contaminants that may harm patients.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan Health System and presented at the 46th Annual Conference of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), examined and measured the cleanliness of multiple faucet and sink designs.

Researchers found that "… a shallow depth of the sink bowl enabled potentially contaminated water to splash onto patient care items, healthcare worker hands and into patient care spaces — at times at a distance of more than four feet from the sink itself," according to an APIC news release.

Particularly alarming was that the inside of faucets — which typically cannot be cleaned — were found to be dirtier than researchers anticipated.

Study author Kristen VanderElzen, said, in the release, "Potentially hazardous germs in and around sinks present a quandary for infection preventionists, since having accessible sinks for hand washing is so integral to everything we promote."

APIC President Karen Hoffmann noted, "Because the healthcare environment can serve as a source of resistant organisms capable of causing dangerous infections, an organization's infection prevention and control program must ensure that measures are in place to reduce the risk of transmission from environmental sources and monitor compliance with those measures."