MRSA found on 15% of hospital's curtainsStudy finds some material less likely to carry bug

07 February 2008

Hospital care

Being prepared can make your hospital stay easier

The super-bug MRSA has been discovered on 15% of a hospital's curtains, a new medical study has found.

During the research 200 curtains were randomly selected from wards and departments across the Queen's Medical Centre (QMC) in Nottingham and tested for MRSA. Of those, 31 tested positive for the bug.

But, as is standard practice, the hospital washes its curtains only four times a year unless they are known to have come in to contact with an infection.

Cutting risk of MRSA

Doctors at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the QMC, have now been looking at ways of reducing the risk of MRSA infecting curtains.

They have found that introducing a silver thread to the material greatly reduces the prevalence of the bug.

Dr Tim Boswell - who is based at the QMC - found that of 192 samples taken from freshly cleaned polyester or cotton curtains over a four week period, 21 contained MRSA.

Prevention

But under the same conditions only four out of 96 samples taken from silver-woven curtains were infected with the superbug.

Dr Boswell, a consultant medical biologist and an infection control doctor, said: 'We are quite keen to evaluate new technologies that will help us prevent infections.

'There are some companies that are producing products that are quite dubious but there are others that have products that are potentially very exciting.

'I think we would have seen a more dramatic effect may be if there was more silver in the curtain but certainly what we saw was very promising.'

Replacing curtains

He added: 'The trust has been looking at replacing many of its curtains and the results of this research have come at the right time.'

But any plans to replace the hospital's curtains might depend on the cost.

Standard polyester curtains from Toray Textiles Europe Ltd, the Mansfield-based firm behind the new curtains, cost on average £3 a square metre. But the silver-woven curtains cost on average £5 a square metre.

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