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Acquisition of bacteria on health care workers' hands after contact with patient privacy curtains

      Highlights

      • Health care workers' hands were imprinted before and after touching privacy curtains.
      • Half of all participants grew bacteria on their hands after touching curtains.
      • All curtain-acquired organisms were skin or oral commensal flora.
      • Hand hygiene after touching curtains is important in preventing nosocomial infection.
      To determine whether pathogenic bacteria could be transferred to health care workers by touching privacy curtains, imprints of health care workers' fingertips were obtained when participants were approached, after hand hygiene with alcohol handrub, and directly after handling curtains. Participants' hands were heavily contaminated at baseline, in some cases with potentially pathogenic species. Half of the participants (n = 30) acquired bacteria on their fingertips from handling curtains, illustrating that privacy curtains may be involved in the transmission of infection to emergency department patients.

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