Identification of carbapenem-resistant organism (CRO) contamination of in-room sinks in intensive care units in a new hospital bed tower

More than 700,000 healthcare–associated infections (HAIs) occur each year in the United States. Pathogenic organisms that cause HAI can be transmitted numerous ways. Although these organisms were traditionally thought to be transmitted via healthcare providers’ hands, the hospital environment has emerged as a key source of transmission as well. In particular, transmission and outbreaks related to hospital wastewater sources are increasingly recognized. Among different water sources within the hospital, sinks located in patient rooms have been increasingly implicated as sources and reservoirs of epidemiologically important pathogens (EIPs). In fact, numerous outbreak investigations have implicated hand washing sinks and/or actions completed near sinks as the source of transmission. Most importantly, sinks are routinely contaminated with carbapenem-resistant organisms (CROs) such as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacterales (CREs). Outbreaks of CRE related to sink contamination have been well described.

HAIs caused by CROs are particularly devastating, with high associated rates of mortality and considerable healthcare costs. Thus, understanding CRO sources and transmission dynamics are critical for prevention strategies. However, the origins and timing of sink contamination with CROs are not completely understood. The DiRTE Lab performed this prospective observational study to describe the timing, rate, and frequency of CRO contamination of in-room handwashing sinks in 2 intensive care units (ICUs) in a newly constructed hospital bed tower.

The full article was published in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.