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Bacterial contamination of healthcare workers' uniforms: a randomized controlled trial of antimicrobial scrubs.

Burden M; Keniston A; Frank MG; Brown CA; Zoucha J; Cervantes L; Weed D; Boyle K; Price C; Albert RK
J Hosp Med 2013 Jul; 8(7):380-385
BACKGROUND: Healthcare workers' (HCWs) uniforms become contaminated with bacteria during normal use, and this may contribute to hospital-acquired infections. Antimicrobial uniforms are currently marketed as a means of reducing this contamination. OBJECTIVE: To compare the extent of bacterial contamination of uniforms and skin when HCWs wear 1 of 2 antimicrobial scrubs or standard scrubs. DESIGN: Prospective, randomized, controlled trial. SETTING: University-affiliated, public safety net hospital. PARTICIPANTS: Hospitalist physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, housestaff, and nurses (total N = 105) working on internal medicine units. INTERVENTION: Subjects were randomized to wear standard scrubs or 1 of 2 antimicrobial scrubs. MEASUREMENTS: Bacterial colony counts in cultures taken from the HCWs' scrubs and wrists after an 8-hour workday. RESULTS: The median (interquartile range) total colony counts was 99 (66-182) for standard scrubs, 137 (84-289) for antimicrobial scrub type A, and 138 (62-274) for antimicrobial scrub type B (P = 0.36). Colony counts from participants' wrists were 16 (5-40) when they wore standard scrubs and 23 (4-42) and 15 (6-54) when they wore antimicrobial scrubs A and B, respectively (P = 0.92). Resistant organisms were cultured from 3 HCWs (4.3%) randomized to antimicrobial scrubs and none randomized to standard scrubs (P = 0.55). Six participants (5.7%) reported side effects to wearing scrubs, all of whom wore antimicrobial scrubs (P = 0.18). CONCLUSIONS: We found no evidence that either antimicrobial scrub product decreased bacterial contamination of HCWs' uniforms or skin after an 8-hour workday.
Health-care-personnel; Bacteria; Bacterial-dusts; Clothing; Medical-personnel; Nurses; Protective-clothing; Bacterial-infections; Infection-control; Antibacterial-agents; Skin-exposure; Employee-exposure; Physicians; Surgeons; Bacterial-cultures; Microorganisms
Marisha A. Burden, MD, Denver Health, 777 Bannock, MC 4000, Denver, CO 80204-4507
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Journal Article
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Journal of Hospital Medicine
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University of Colorado, Denver
Page last reviewed: June 15, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division