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Health care workers underestimate infection-spreading risk: study

August 31, 2011

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Washington – Health care workers may not fully understand how easily infections can be transported from contaminated surfaces, a new study from Raleigh-based North Carolina University suggests.

Researchers surveyed 71 health care workers, assessing their perceived risk of infection, and found that they believed surfaces were safer to touch than a patient’s skin, according to a press release from the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, which published the study.

Touching a contaminated surface, also known as a fomite, can spread bacteria to as many as the next seven surfaces, APIC said.

“Despite the dangers that formites present, this knowledge may not be common enough among health care workers for them to understand the level of risk when touching surfaces and then touching patients,” study authors said.

The study was published in the August issue of the American Journal of Infection Control.

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