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7 in 10 Ambulances Positive for Staph Isolates

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, March 30, 2012

"Since these surfaces come in contact with human skin quite often, one would expect to find S. aureus, and other similar bacteria, fairly often, regardless of how often the ambulances are disinfected," he said in response to emailed questions.

In a news release, Rago said the study's results indicate that first responders in general "are doing a good job of protecting their patients. The research is significant because improper cleaning of these surfaces could be a cause for concern due to the frequency with which emergency medical technicians may touch infected surfaces during patient care, the prevalence of open wounds among burn victims, and the fact that these patients go directly to the hospital where they come in contact with patients with compromised immune systems who are vulnerable to infections."

 

How often should ambulances be cleaned?

"The more, the better, within reason of course," Rago said in an email. "I would hope that consistent application of existing techniques would continue, and where appropriate, new and better techniques would be incorporated.  But as I said in the article, a conscientious and consistent approach to what’s already in place is usually reasonably sufficient to protect both the members of the EMT community, and the general public as a whole."

"Given the frequency with which both patients and emergency care personnel contact various surfaces in ambulances, it should come as no surprise that almost 70% of ambulances yielded at least one S. aureus  isolate," the authors wrote.


Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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