Nurse Uniform Contamination Increases Over Duration of Shifts

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Nurses' uniforms can act as a reservoir of infections, with the areas around the pockets, cuffs and aprons the most contaminated. Investigators from the Public University of Navarra, the University of Vavarra Clinic, and the University of Vavarra Clinic in Pamplona, Spain, compared the contamination levels as well as measured the influence of the number of shifts as uniform was used in its contamination.

The standard nurses' uniform studied consisted of a dress and pinafore apron with the "scrub dress" type of apparel. Microbiological cultures were collected from uniforms of 88 nurses (58 using traditional uniform and 30 using scrub dress) in a university hospital, during their work in a one-month period. Cultures were obtained using Count-tact plates (BioMĂ©rieux) plates (25 cm2). The culture media were incubated for five days at room temperature. After the incubation period bacterial count and type of bacteria colonizing the uniform were evaluated by a microbiologist. Reading was provide in colony forming units (cfus).

The average count was 42,82 fcu/cm2. According to the researchers, there were no differences in the count between both types of uniform.(P=0,504). There was a positive correlation between the number of days and microbiological count (r=0,224, P=0,036). The average count was 44,36 cfu/cm in those nurses using the uniform for one or two shifts, and at 65,20 cfu this difference was statistically significant. (P=0,031).

The researchers conclude that there are no differences in microbiological contamination between standard or scrub uniform. The main differences incontamination appeared in those nurses that used the same uniform for more than two shifts. They add that hospitals should provided nurses with enough uniforms to change before every shift or at least every two shifts. Their research was presented at the International Conference on Prevention & Infection Control (ICPIC) held in Geneva, Switzerland June 29-July 2, 2011.

Reference: F Guillen-Grima, A Aguinaga-Perez, J Nunez-Cordoba and C Sara. Influence of type of uniform and days of usage in microbiological contamination of nurses uniform in a university hospital. Presentation at International Conference on Prevention & Infection Control (ICPIC). BMC Proceedings 2011, 5(Suppl 6):P317

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