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The need for privacy in hospital rooms could spread MRSA

If you are like most people, you expect hospitals to be sterile, clean environments. Unfortunately, hospital-acquired infections are on the rise, and at least one of them is highly resistant to antibiotics. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, commonly known as MRSA, spreads through contact and requires swift and aggressive treatment.

Cleanliness is one of the major ways to combat the spread of MRSA. Even if New Mexico hospitals keep the rooms clean, there does seem to be one source of the virulent infection that hospitals could easily miss.

Privacy curtains

That's right. That privacy curtain that people pull back and forth all day is a prime breeding ground for MRSA. A study conducted by researchers and published in the American Journal of Infection Control showed just how dangerous privacy curtains could be. The study went something like this: 

  • Researchers tracked 10 privacy curtains over the course of 21 days.
  • They ensured that none of the patients in the designated rooms suffered from MRSA during the study period.
  • Researchers had staff hang freshly laundered privacy curtains in patient rooms.
  • Over the course of the study period, the MRSA contamination grew.
  • By the time the study reached its 14th day, researchers found MRSA on 87.5% of the curtains.
  • When freshly laundered curtains were not hung in patients' rooms, they remained MRSA free for the duration of the study.
  • The highest concentration of the infection was located in places where people would grab the curtains.

This study confirms that this infection spreads through direct contact. Even if the rest of the room is immaculately clean, touching the privacy curtain could result in contracting MRSA. This is largely due to the fact that these curtains are not changed frequently enough to prevent it. As the study intimates, hospital staff should not let these curtains remain hanging for 14 or more days without cleaning or changing.

If you recently spent time in the hospital and contracted MRSA, you may have reason to pursue compensation for the harm done to you since this particular infection can be difficult to cure, and it could threaten your life and have long-lasting effects. Even if a hospital can prove staff members clean the rooms on a regular schedule, testing the privacy curtain could reveal the source of your infection.

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