As If You Didn’t Have Enough To Worry About.

clear kitchen sink clog

Hospitals can be scary places.  We are usually there because we are sick or because we are visiting someone who is sick.  The notable exceptions are the labor and delivery area and the newborn nursery.  Visits there have the greatest chance of being happy ones.  The rest of the time, not so much.

Infections are a huge problem at hospitals.  There are lots of sick people in the hospital.  They sometimes have illnesses which can be transmitted to others or bacteria which infect patients or visitors.  Their immune systems are often not effective.  Nurses and doctors must be careful to observe good hygiene practices or they can unwittingly become the means by which infection spreads.  Studies have shown that a doctor’s tie is a veritable luxury vehicle for bacteria and that they use it to hitch a ride from one patient to another.

Bugs in hospitals are not only plentiful, they are often resistant to antibiotics.  They have been around for a long time.  Hospitals use antibiotics and antiseptic wipes and solutions in an attempt to kill them.  Many are killed but those that are not pass their resistance on to their offspring and there are lots of them.

As if there was not already enough to worry about, the latest news is that antibiotic resistant superbugs are hiding in hospital drains and just waiting for a chance to splash out and infect someone.  An infectious outbreak traced to bacteria in drains killed 11 patients at the National Institutes of Health flagship hospital a few years ago.  If it can happen there, it can happen anywhere.  The incidence of drain-related bacterial outbreaks has been on the increase across the world.

While doctors have known for years that there were bacteria living in hospital drainpipes, they assumed they were in the U-shaped trap, a safe distance from the mouth of the drain.  Wrong.  Now they have discovered that they live in the gunk which comes right up to the mouth of the drain and often splash out into the sink when water runs into the drain.  In some experiments, the bacteria-laden water jumped as much as two feet from the opening of the drain.  The gunk in which they live is nearly impossible to remove and shields the bacteria from most attempts at sterilization.  It is the same type of film which makes endoscopes so difficult to clean and which allows them to pass superbugs from one patient to another.

Realistically, there is not much you can do about bacteria in hospital drains.  What you can and should do is insist that everyone who touches you or your loved one in the hospital washes their hands first.  Same goes for the doctor’s office.

Posted in antibiotic resistant bacteria, blood infections, Doctors, Hospitals, Infection, Nurses, science news, Sepsis |