How are Germs Transmitted in Hospitals?

Most of us are aware that germs exist in hospitals. We expect that stringent cleaning standards are being followed in order to kill germs that are lingering in the environment. How are germs transmitted in hospitals? It’s an important question to answer, as it endangers the lives of patients and staff. The Hospital Microbiome Project, a year-long study was designed to, “better understand the development of bacterial communities.”[i] This study gathered samples from surfaces, air, staff and patients. It is important to note that the study was conducted in a new hospital setting prior to opening and continued while populated with patients and staff.

Findings showed the spread of germs were more likely to occur staff-to-patient than patient-to-staff. It also found that drug-resistant germs lived more numerously on surfaces than on patients. Additionally, germs already living on a patient spread to the hospital room.[ii] So after a hospital room is cleaned, when a new patient comes in, the bacteria on the new patient spread to the room.

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Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAIs) are Deadly but Preventable

Hospital Room Germs

Healthcare-associated infections can be contracted in a variety of medical settings such as acute care hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, dialysis facilities, outpatient care facilities, and long-term care facilities.[1]

Although HAIs are preventable, nearly 1 in 25 patients contract an HAI daily while staying in a hospital.[2] A patient who is currently undergoing medical treatment should not have to worry about contracting a potentially deadly infection during their stay. However, according to the CDC, about 1.7 million HAI infections occur in hospitals annually, causing 99,000 deaths each year and averaging around $20 billion in healthcare costs.[3] Unfortunately, there are numerous HAI infections that can be contracted in a medical facility.

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