Researchers Identify Levels of Bacterial Contamination on Hospital Beds

Hospital beds are potential reservoirs of bacteria in hospitals. Preventing contamination of the bed and providing a cleaner surface should help prevent healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs). Most hospital beds are cleaned between patients (terminal cleaning) using quaternary ammonia compounds (quats). Hooker, et al. (2012) sought to  identify levels of bacterial contamination on beds (including the mattress and bed deck) and evaluate a new launderable cover.
Hospital beds on a bariatric surgery ward were randomized to either receive or not receive a launderable cover (Trinity Guardion). Bacterial counts on the surface of the mattress, the bed deck, and the launderable cover were then collected using Petrifilm Aerobic Count Plates at three time periods (before patient use, after discharge, and after terminal cleaning). Standard hospital linen was used in all rooms.
The launderable cover (n=28) was significantly cleaner prior to patient use than were the cleaned mattresses (n=38) (1.1 CFU/30cm2 vs. 7.7 CFU/30cm2; p=0.0189). The mattresses without launderable covers became significantly contaminated during use (7.7CFU/30cm2 on admission vs. 79.1 CFU/30cm2 after discharge; p<0.001). The mattresses with launderable covers did not become contaminated (3.0 CFU/30cm2 on admission vs. 2.5 CFU/30cm2 at discharge; p=0.703). After terminal cleaning, the mattress surface contamination decreased to 12.8 CFU/30cm2 (median 3 CFU/30cm2; SD 7.8), but the bed deck was more contaminated (6.7 CFU/30cm2 after discharge compared to 30.9 CFU/30cm2 after terminal cleaning; p=0.031).

The researchers conclude that terminal cleaning fails to eliminate bacteria from the surface of the hospital mattress. They add that the launderable cover provides a cleaner surface than does terminal cleaning with quats, and the cover protects the bed from contamination during use. Their research was published in Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control.

Reference: Hooker EA, Allen S,  Gray L and Kaufman C.  A randomized trial to evaluate a launderable bed protection system for hospital beds. Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control. 2012, 1:27 doi:10.1186/2047-2994-1-27