Health care workers know about the importance of frequent handwashing, but after finding out that most seniors (nearly 25%) leave the hospital with at least one superbug on their hands, researchers at the University of Michigan believe hygiene education should extend to patients as well.
“Patient handwashing is not a routine practice in hospitals,” said lead author Dr. Lona Mody, who believes that needs to change. She and her team studied more than 350 seniors staying in hospitals throughout the state and discovered that not only are they being discharged with at least one multidrug-resistant organism, but they are taking those superbugs with them to their next stop.
Following a hospital stay, many seniors are admitted to a nursing home or similar facility for additional care. There, they continue to pick up new superbugs, according to study findings. This may be attributed to being in a highly social setting where germs are shared easily, but researchers fear the heavy use of antibiotics in such facilities also may be contributing to the superbug problem.
Study authors stress the need to extend handwashing education to the facility residents themselves, perhaps even showing them what an actual superbug looks like. They believe tool kits used for staff education may also be adapted for resident use.