The conclusions sound very logical, said Dr. Zachary Rubin, an epidemiologist at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital in Santa Monica. However, he added, "this is a mathematical model, and you have to do studies with human beings to see if the data is still true or not."
Temime said she and her colleagues are doing just that. They are involved in a European project called Mastering Hospital Antimicrobial Resistance (MOSAR), in which data on exposures and bacterial colonization will be collected on patients and health-care workers. "We are planning to use this data to validate our model," Temime said.
For now, many hospitals are stepping up efforts to promote hand washing among employees. Because the peripatetic workers have "major superspreading potential," the study authors recommend individual surveillance of these health-care workers.
Rubin said that hospitalized patients shouldn't be shy about asking the health-care workers who come in contact with them to follow infection control guidelines. Some hospitals have posted signs in patient rooms asking "Did your health-care worker wash his hands?" to make patients more aware of the importance of hand washing, he said.
"If a patient is concerned [about lack of hygiene from a health-care worker], he can always talk to the head nurse or charge nurse," Rubin said, as well as the hospital's patient advocate or his own physician.
To learn more about hospital-acquired infections, visit the National Conference of State Legislators.
SOURCE: Zachary Rubin, M.D., epidemiologist, Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and O
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