Privacy curtains that separate patient care areas in hospitals may play an important role in the transmission of healthcare-associated pathogens. The aim of this randomized, controlled trial was to assess the effectiveness in a clinical setting of curtains incorporating a complex element compound (CEC) with antimicrobial properties.
Twenty-one rooms in a surgical intensive care unit (ICU) and 9 rooms in a medical ICU were randomly selected to receive either a new standard curtain or a new identical-looking CEC curtain. Fifteen rooms received CEC curtains and 15 received standard curtains.
Cultures were performed of samples that were collected from curtains twice a week for 4 weeks (23 days). Contamination was determined according to standard microbiologic methods. Time to contamination was assessed with the Wilcoxon rank-sum test and survival analysis. Incidence rates of contamination were compared using Poisson regression.
The median time to first contamination was 7 times longer for CEC curtains than for standard curtains (14 vs 2 days; P< .01). CEC curtains were significantly less contaminated than standard curtains according to earlier culture results but not significantly different for later culture results. Fourteen CEC curtains and 13 standard curtains were contaminated at least once (P = 1.0). The adjusted rate of contamination was 29% lower among CEC versus standard curtains, but this was not statistically significant (rate ratio, 0.71; 95% CI, 0.48–1.07).
CEC privacy curtains increase the time to first contamination as compared with standard curtains. Use of privacy curtains with antimicrobial properties could increase the time between washings and may potentially play a role in decreasing pathogen transmission.
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