Paper Transmits Hospital Germs
In the battle against hospital-acquired infections, health experts have already identified bed curtains, doctorsâ€™ lab coats, and nursesâ€™ uniforms as potential germ factories. But papers being passed around the doctorâ€™s office may also contain dangerous bacteria, a new study suggests.
Researchers in Germany contaminated paper with four types of common bacteria and had volunteers handle the paper. They found that bacteria survived on the paper for at least 72 hours and could still be cultivated from paper a week later. The bacteria could be easily transferred from paper to hand and back to paper.
Unlike other germy surfaces, paper can be difficult to disinfect through chemical means. The best line of defense is simple hand-washing, which may be difficult to enforce. Electronic records are becoming more popular in hospitals, but that means keyboards and computer screen need to be regularly wiped down to curtail germs.
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