Emergency! Addressing contamination with antibiotic-resistant bacteria in ambulances

Posted

25th January 2019

Research

The last thing you need if you require the services of an emergency ambulance is exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria from contaminated surfaces. A recent US study suggests that this is commonplace, finding MRSA environmental contamination in every single emergency ambulance tested! These findings reinforce the need for thorough cleaning and disinfection of emergency ambulances.

The study team sampled oxygen cylinders and regulators in 9 emergency ambulances, and 70 oxygen cylinders in an off-site storage facility for MRSA. Amazingly, all 9 emergency ambulances were found to be contaminated with MRSA, as were 67/70 (96%) of oxygen cylinders in the storage area. MRSA wasn’t found on most of the surfaces sampled in the ambulance.

The findings are consistent with previous studies, which have also found contamination of ambulances. Furthermore, previous studies have also shown that existing methods for cleaning and disinfecting ambulances are not sufficient to tackle contamination with clinically-relevant organisms. These studies suggest that more needs to be done to ensure that ambulances don’t become a source for the acquisition of MRSA and other antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The disinfection of ambulances is challenging. They have multiple touch points, a risk of heavy levels of organic soiling, the need for rapid turnaround, and a requirement for environmental hygiene procedures that can be applied quickly and effectively on the road. Disinfectant wipes can help in developing effective environmental hygiene protocols for ambulances.

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