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article imageHospital clean-up actually increased microbial contamination

By Tim Sandle     Nov 2, 2019 in Health
Edinburgh - A new study into the clean-up of a hospital in response to bacterial contamination reveals that the remediation process actually made matters worse, dislodging more contamination than there actually was to start with.
The clan-up event relates to Edinburgh's Western General, where a surgical ward was closed in March 2019 following some reports of patients being infected with the Gram-negative bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The spruce of the contamination was traced to water, with the organism being recovered from sink taps and shower heads. Ps. aeruginosa is an important opportunistic pathogen in the healthcare setting.
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Hospital water is a recognized source P. aeruginosa, related more to its ability to colonize biofilms in plumbing fixtures, with the bacterium able to survive in found in low nutrient or oligotrophic environments. Several attempts, through hospital standards and different types of plumbing, have been attempted to try to minimize cases of the bacterium within the healthcare environment.
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With the clean-up of the Scottish hospital, documents released by a health governance organization and shown to the BBC indicate that the attempts to clean-up the hospital plumbing system ended up causing further problems.
This was due to the presence of a biofilm community, as the report indicates: "current hypothesis is that remedial plumbing, extensive flushing and water pressure may have dislodged biofilm (a collection of microorganisms such as bacteria) within the water systems leading to the contamination in the recent samples".
A biofilm is a collection of organic and inorganic, living and dead material collected on a surface. Often attempts to eliminate a biofilm lead to greater numbers of microorganisms released (notwithstanding that biofilms are notoriously difficult to eliminate).
The hospital is to test the water and to assess the situation. Samples of the organism have been identified and since then 18 samples (out of 2,926 taken) have tested positive. The health board describes these as "very low counts of Pseudomonas aeruginosa".
More about Bacteria, Hospital, Microbiology, Contamination
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