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Study- Harmful Bacteria on Hospital Curtains

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susan_harr6 years ago

A new study found that privacy curtains, which separate patients in hospital rooms, may become contaminated with an array of harmful bacteria. The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Iowa, found Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), and various species of Enterococci on a number of privacy curtains separating patients in an Iowa hospital.

About the Study

  • Researchers took 180 swab cultures from 43 privacy curtains twice a week for three weeks.
  • The curtains were located in the medical and surgical intensive care units and on a medical ward of the University of Iowa Hospitals.
  • Tests detected Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), and various species of anti-biotic resistant Enterococci.
  • The study also found that significant contamination occurred very rapidly after contaminated curtains were removed and replaced.


  • 41 of the 43 curtains tested were contaminated on at least one occasion.
  • Of the 13 privacy curtains replaced during the study, 12 showed contamination within a week.
  • MRSA was found in 1 in 5 curtains, and vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE) was found in 4 in 10.
  • Eight curtains were contaminated with VRE more than once.
  • Two thirds of the swab cultures were positive for either S. aureus (26%), Enterococcus species (44%) or various bacterial species from a group known as gram-negative rods (22%).
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