Did you catch the recent article in Infection Control Today profiling one facility’s work on soft surface fabrics? Infection Preventionist Victor Lange at Promise Hospital in San Diego, California describes the importance of the patient environment in the transmission of infection, but recognized that soft surface fabrics are often overlooked in determining the source of those infections. Because of this, the facility decided to look at one type of fabric that comes in direct and almost constant contact with the patient – their pillows.

Lange and his team conducted a study that showed recently disinfected hospital pillows may not be very clean after all. The researchers swabbed 100 “patient-ready” reusable vinyl-covered pillows over a five-week span. The subsequent analysis showed 38 percent were contaminated with pathogens including MRSA, VRE, E. faecalis, E. coli, P. stuartii, and Yeast, among others. The hospital is taking steps to address the issue including reviewing products with an embedded antimicrobial.

It’s essential that we collectively recognize the important role fabrics play in contributing to overall bioburden in the patient environment. Effectively breaking the chain of infection requires a complete infection prevention program addressing all potential bacteria reservoirs.

Have you recently looked at contamination of pillows or bedding in your facility? Are you concerned about contamination of other types of fabrics? Let us know in the comment section!