December 7, 2010 Leave a comment
Groundbreaking study uncovers two reasons anti-microbial cubicle curtains are best for hospitals
Maintenance costs to remove and replace cubicle curtains in hospitals and healthcare facilities can be costly in terms of labor and laundering. But without frequent laundering, standard cubicle curtains can transfer some of the worst healthcare acquired infections including Staph, MRSA, E-Coli, C-Diff and others. They are often the prime suspects in the spread of infections due to constant hand contact.
In a groundbreaking study, researchers at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, New York, compared standard privacy curtains to anti-microbial privacy curtains to assess their anti-microbial activity and calculate the direct and indirect costs associated with maintaining them.
For the study, the direct cost of purchasing two samples of anti-microbial curtains (Shield™ from InPro Corporation) and one sample of a standard curtain was recorded. The curtains were evaluated for anti-microbial activity by placing fabric samples directly onto Mueller Hinton agar inoculated with clinical isolates or quality control organisms.
Anti-microbial activity was measured using the disc diffusion method as per Clinical Laboratory Standards Institute. Control discs were: vancomycin for Staphyloccocus aureus, coagulase-negative staphylococci and enterococci; chloramphenicol for VRE, and meropenem for gram-negative bacteria.
A total of 15 clinical and ATCC quality control organisms, including MRSA, VRE, P. aeruginosa, K. pneumoniae, E. coli, Enterobacter cloacae and A. baumannii, were tested. One of the anti-microbial fabrics exhibited broad-spectrum antibacterial activity comparable to that of an antibiotic control disc, while the other showed much less activity. No anti-microbial activity was detected with the standard sample.
As far as the indirect costs calculated in the study, laundering and maintenance were taken into account. Westchester, a teaching hospital with 634 beds, changes hospital curtains quarterly for all rooms, whenever visibly soiled and at room discharges for isolation cases. The routine laundering of hospital curtains for visible soiling and quarterly was not included in this calculation, because Westchester would continue these procedures regardless of the curtain type. The number of isolation discharges and the average wage of the environmental services staff were used to calculate the indirect costs of laundering curtains and staff time. The cost associated with a vacant room during a curtain change for isolation discharges was also estimated and figured in as an indirect cost.
The results? The successful anti-microbial cubicle curtain showed in-vitro activity against hospital pathogens that was comparable to that of an antibiotic disc. This suggests the use of anti-microbial cubicle curtains can be an effective way to prevent the spread of infections. A further study will be necessary to test the anti-microbial curtain efficacy in clinical situations and over time.
The study also indicated that the use of anti-microbial hospital curtains provides an opportunity to avert costs related to isolation-based curtain changing and laundering. Despite the fact that the initial expense for anti-microbial curtains was more than double that of the standard curtain, there was an estimated initial year cost savings of $50,612 because the use of anti-microbial curtains removed the practice of routinely changing curtains. The elimination of laundering, labor time and room vacancy uncovered an additional $139,138 that can be saved every subsequent year. Although these savings may vary per hospital, the study at Westchester proved that anti-microbial cubicle curtains are not only a smart economical choice over time, but also a crucial element in healthcare infection control.
For a detailed breakdown of the costs referenced in this study, download the Shield™ Cubicle Curtain Return on Investment (ROI) Analysis.
Case study researched by Westchester Medical Center staff: Georgeta Rinck, RN, MPH; Janet P. Haas, DNSc, RN, CIC; Guiqing Wang, Ph.D.; Marisa A. Montecalvo, MD; Damon deChamplain