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Blood pressure cuffs vectors for organism transmission

MEDIA RELEASE
Embargoed before 12.01 am Monday June 17

Blood pressure cuffs potential vectors for transmission of multi-resistant organisms, study finds

Blood pressure cuffs are potential vectors for transmission of multi-resistant organisms , according to a study published in the latest issue of Emergency Medicine Australasia, the journal of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine.

Dr Amith Shetty, emergency physician at Westmead Hospital, with Drs Harjeet Grewal  and Kavita Varshney from the Emergency Department at Westmead Hospital,  Lee Thomas and Dr Jen Kok from the Centre for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology Laboratory Services at Westmead Hospital, prospectively examined blood pressure cuffs in the emergency department , high dependency unit, and operating theatres after routine disinfection procedures.

Swabs collected from the inner and outer surfaces of BP cuffs during intervals between patients were investigated for multi-resistant organisms such as Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE).

The researchers discovered high bacterial colonization rates in cuffs from all three areas, although those from the operating theatres were significantly less colonized compared to those from the other areas.

The researchers concluded that although MRSA and VRE were infrequently isolated, current disinfection and infection control protocols need to be improved, given the greater recovery of organisms from the inner compared to outer surfaces of BP cuffs.

“Although a direct correlation between blood pressure cuff contamination rates and risks of multi-resistant organism transmission cannot be made, increased contamination of cuffs is likely to increase the risk of nosocomial infections,” they said.

“Previous studies have also demonstrated that colonization rates between the inner and outer surfaces of BP cuffs are different, suggesting that the area of skin in contact with the cuff is important in determining the efficiency of colonization and transmission.”

Dr Shetty said it is likely that these same results would be found in healthcare facilities around the world, which means that extra care should be taken in cleaning BP cuffs.

ENDS

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