A bed is located in the corner of a room. A patient is lying in it – isolated. Everybody coming in the room is wearing protective clothing and people who contact the patient wash their hands thoroughly afterwards. What seems to be a horror scenario is daily routine in German hospitals if a patient is infected with MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus). A handshake is enough to pass the antibiotics-resistant bacterium. Enfeebled people might even die from that.
“Bioactive curtains were a non-essential product but they could be an expedient supplement within the hygienic preventive measures of a hospital”, Dr. Klaus-Dieter Zastrow, head of the hygiene institute at the clinical center Vivantes in Berlin, said. “Although there were no surveys about the role of curtains regarding the spread of infections, MRSA could survive weeks or even months if it got into the curtains.”
Bioactive curtains shall start off at this point. Integrated silver threads consistently emit silver ions which kill microorganisms. In one of Zastrow’s survey it appeared that bioactive curtains contained up to 80 per cent less germs than traditional ones. According to the hygienist, MRSA becomes innocuous this way, too.
Dr. Roland Schulze-Röbbecke from the institute for medical microbiology and hospital hygiene at the university medical center Düsseldorf, however, considers bioactive curtains “utter nonsense”: “Curtains as source of carrier – that’s unknown to me and in my opinion irrelevant. From my point of view, there is not one experimental research which proves that bioactive curtains could prevent infections.”
Much more expedient were measures that belong to the daily routine of many hospitals by now: Patients which associate with a risk group like diabetes get screened at the admission by sampling their nasal mucous membrane with the aid of a stem pad. If you would be infected with MRSA, you would get into isolation. Furthermore, the consequent hygienic hand disinfection plays a key role in order to prevent the transmission of MRSA.
Dr. Iris Chaberny, senior physician of the hospital hygiene at MHH Hannover, considers the disinfectant and the stem pad as the most important equipment to combat resistant bacteria as well. “Hygienic hand disinfection is most important”, the physician emphasizes. “You have to detect in sufficient time whether a patient has MRSA or not. If you see the red light, danger can be banished.” The infection rate at MHH confirms her statement. Since conspicuous patients get tested on MRSA, the rate of new infections decreased by 63 per cent. And curtains could be regularly washed after all.