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Antimicrobial Curtains Provide a False Sense of Security

By June 7th, 2023No Comments

In 2014 a 650-bed academic, teaching hospital decided to switch all curtains to antimicrobial fabric. Because of this change, the Environmental Services leaders decided that it was no longer necessary to clean or exchange curtains between patient uses unless they were visibly soiled. They aimed to determine the degree of bacterial contamination of antimicrobial curtains.

Of 20 curtains, 95% showed bacterial growth. Of the 10 door curtains, 50% showed gram-negative bacteria (GNB) growth which is among the most significant public health problems in the world due to the high resistance to antibiotics. These microorganisms have great clinical importance in hospitals because they put patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) at high risk and lead to high morbidity and mortality.

And 100% of the curtains had Gram-positive organisms. Gram-positive bacteria are increasingly becoming resistant to antibiotics. For example, methicillin-resistant Staph aureus (MRSA) are resistant to most antibiotics.

Of the 10 commode curtains, 10% showed Gram-negative organisms and 90% had Gram-positive organisms.

Current studies show that even pre-treated textiles can become contaminated with pathogenic microorganisms. It is unfortunate that this “fecal patina” is not visible to the naked eye because this limitation allows for curtains to be bypassed for months by EVS management.

Every patient deserves and expects a safe, clean, and disinfected room in which to recover. The use of antimicrobial curtains provided a false sense of security for the EVS leaders and failed to live up to the expectation the hospital had when the curtains were purchased.