Most look around but rarely down when they consider possible homes for germs. It’s probably best to rethink that. Hospital floors are particularly vulnerable to the gathering of infection-causing pathogens. While we don’t sit on or crawl around on hospital floors, they still are risky. Bedding, shoes, socks, clothing and a host of other items touch hospital floors. From there those items are touched, sending potential infections off to the races.

In a study by Abhishek Deshpande, MD, PhD and colleagues, researchers cultured 318 floor sites from 159 patient rooms (two sites per room) in five Cleveland-area hospitals. The hospital rooms included both C. difficile infection (CDI) isolation rooms and non-CDI rooms. Researchers also cultured hands (gloved and bare) as well as other high-touch surfaces such as clothing, call buttons, medical devices, linens, and medical supplies. Deshpande concludes that: “Efforts to improve disinfection in the hospital environment usually focus on surfaces that are frequently touched by the hands of healthcare workers or patients,” said Deshpande, et al. “Although healthcare facility floors are often heavily contaminated, limited attention has been paid to disinfection of floors because they are not frequently touched. The results of our study suggest that floors in hospital rooms could be an underappreciated source for dissemination of pathogens and are an important area for additional research.” Hospital floors may pose a larger health risk than previously thought

Below are links to other studies and analyses relevant to this topic.

  • You Can Get Sick From Germs on Hospital Floors
  • Controversies in Hospital Infection Prevention