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Bacteria on the Soles of Patient-Issued Nonskid Slipper Socks

An Overlooked Pathogen Spread Threat?

Welle, Mary K.; Bliha, Madeline; DeLuca, Jenna; Frauhiger, Alayna; Lamichhane-Khadka, Reena

doi: 10.1097/NOR.0000000000000516
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BACKGROUND: This is the first study to determine whether nonskid slipper socks in contact with the hospital floor and worn into bed contaminate bed linen.

PURPOSE: The main purpose of the study was to determine whether contamination of hospital linen occurred with bacteria transferred from the soles of nonskid slipper socks that have touched the floor.

METHODS: This study mimicked real patients walking on a hospital floor wearing slipper socks and getting back into bed with the slipper socks on. Swab samples were collected from the surfaces of the hospital floor, nonskid slipper sock bottoms, and bed linen in 2 Midwestern hospitals. From the samples, bacterial isolates were identified and tested for antibiotic resistance.

RESULTS: Isolates obtained from the samples were identified on all 3 surfaces at both hospitals, indicating spread of the bacteria from floor to the bed linen via the nonskid slipper socks. Antibiotic sensitivity test revealed that a significant number of isolates collected were resistant to at least 2 antibiotics tested.

CONCLUSION: This study demonstrates cross-contamination of bed linen with potentially pathogenic bacteria present on the hospital floor via contact with patient-worn nonskid slipper socks. A simple practice change regarding the wearing of slipper socks could play an important role in preventing pathogen transfer to the bed linen. Awareness of the likelihood of hand contamination after touching the sock bottoms that have come in contact with the hospital floor should also be considered.

Mary K. Welle, MSN, RN, CNS, ONC, Associate Professor Emeritus, Department of Nursing Science, Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame, IN.

Madeline Bliha, BS, Department of Biology, Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame, IN.

Jenna DeLuca, BS, Department of Biology, Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame, IN.

Alayna Frauhiger, BS, Department of Biology, Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame, IN.

Reena Lamichhane-Khadka, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Biology, Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame, IN.

The authors of this article certify that they have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

© 2019 National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses