Uniforms worn by medical and nursing staff are not usually considered important in the transmission of microorganisms. We investigated the rate of potentially pathogenic bacteria present on uniforms worn by hospital staff, as well as the bacterial load of these microorganisms.
Cultures were obtained from uniforms of nurses and physicians by pressing standard blood agar plates at the abdominal zone, sleeve ends, and pockets. Each participant completed a questionnaire.
A total of 238 samples were collected from 135 personnel, including 75 nurses (55%) and 60 physicians (45%). Of these, 79 (58%) claimed to change their uniform every day, and 104 (77%) defined the level of hygiene of their attire as fair to excellent. Potentially pathogenic bacteria were isolated from at least one site of the uniforms of 85 participants (63%) and were isolated from 119 samples (50%); 21 (14%) of the samples from nurses’ gowns and 6 (6%) of the samples from physicians’ gowns (P = NS) included of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Up to 60% of hospital staff’s uniforms are colonized with potentially pathogenic bacteria, including drug-resistant organisms. It remains to be determined whether these bacteria can be transferred to patients and cause clinically relevant infection.