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Blood pressure cuffs potential vectors for transmission of multi-resistant organisms, study finds
Blood pressure cuffs are potential vectors for transmission of multi-resistant organisms , according to a study
published in the latest issue of Emergency Medicine Australasia, the journal of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine.
Dr Amith Shetty, emergency physician at Westmead Hospital, with Drs Harjeet Grewal and Kavita Varshney from the
Emergency Department at Westmead Hospital, Lee Thomas and Dr Jen Kok from the Centre for Infectious Diseases and
Microbiology Laboratory Services at Westmead Hospital, prospectively examined blood pressure cuffs in the emergency
department , high dependency unit, and operating theatres after routine disinfection procedures.
Swabs collected from the inner and outer surfaces of BP cuffs during intervals between patients were investigated for
multi-resistant organisms such as Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE).
The researchers discovered high bacterial colonization rates in cuffs from all three areas, although those from the
operating theatres were significantly less colonized compared to those from the other areas.
The researchers concluded that although MRSA and VRE were infrequently isolated, current disinfection and infection
control protocols need to be improved, given the greater recovery of organisms from the inner compared to outer surfaces
of BP cuffs.
“Although a direct correlation between blood pressure cuff contamination rates and risks of multi-resistant organism
transmission cannot be made, increased contamination of cuffs is likely to increase the risk of nosocomial infections,”
“Previous studies have also demonstrated that colonization rates between the inner and outer surfaces of BP cuffs are
different, suggesting that the area of skin in contact with the cuff is important in determining the efficiency of
colonization and transmission.”
Dr Shetty said it is likely that these same results would be found in healthcare facilities around the world, which
means that extra care should be taken in cleaning BP cuffs.