Microbial Contamination on Touch Surfaces in Sick- and Well-Child Waiting Rooms in Pediatric Outpatient Facilities

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Abstract

Background:

Healthcare-associated infections are a significant public health burden resulting in approximately 1.7 million infections each year. Much work is done to study the contributing factors in inpatient settings; however, little has been done to study outpatient facilities and their roles in healthcare-associated infections. While many pediatric outpatient offices utilize separated waiting areas for sick and well children to decrease the spread of disease, research has not been done to determine whether this practice is of benefit. In this study, we aimed to determine whether there is a difference in microbial burden between sick- and well-child waiting areas and to identify surfaces with the highest levels of contamination.

Methods:

Touch surfaces in waiting rooms were swabbed and surveyed for total microbial growth, staphylococcal growth and Gram-negative enteric bacterial growth. Selected bacteria were identified to screen for pathogenic organisms. Surfaces sampled included seats, tables, children’s tables, children’s seats, magazines and books.

Results:

We found seats, children’s seats and children’s books to have the highest microbial burden. No conclusions can be made on the differences in microbial contamination in sick- and well-child waiting areas because of high variation. Streptococcus pyogenes was isolated as were several opportunistic pathogens.

Conclusions:

This study suggests the need for better cleaning practices by pediatric outpatient facilities, to include the disinfection of additional surfaces as well as more frequent and thorough cleaning.

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