Hidden Infection Concerns

Posted by

By Justin McKay, BA, MS

Got Ringworm? Did you know that when randomly tested, 21 out of 25 protective x-ray garments were identified as quietly carrying staph aureus (3 of these 21 later were confirmed as MRSA) and 21 out of the 25 were also carrying tinea/ringworm species?!1

Protecting patient and staff safety is not just a task that challenges our infection prevention departments. It is each of our responsibilities to help ensure that we are doing our part to promote safety and avoid complications and infections. In 2015, the annual direct medical costs due to hospital associated infections were $30.5 billion.2 Hospitals and facilities today are seen engaging in hand hygiene initiatives, investing in bug killing robots, and creating new policies and protocols on many levels in the name of staff and patient safety.

Since x-ray garments are deemed a “high touch object,” governing bodies such as the CDC, TJC, HFAP, etc. recommend that a cleaning and servicing protocol is in place. Protective x-ray garments have been identified as quietly carrying a host of microorganisms on them, including enterococcus, clostridium difficile, staph aureus, klebsiella, and pseudomonas. Research cites that just using a sanitizing wipe on them has proven to be ineffective.3 Of even greater concern is the length of time that such microorganisms can live, thrive, and replicate on the surfaces of x-ray garments. Simply put, data indicates that we are putting our patients and staff at risk through not having a cleaning/servicing program in place for all x-ray garments inside of our departments.

My 60 minute interactive session at the 2017 AHRA Annual Meeting, “Staff/Patient Danger: Hidden Infection Concerns Amongst Everyday Equipment,” will further explore the dangers associated with this topic. Participants will examine why establishing a garment cleaning protocol is important and will review the evidence based practices and literature available regarding the risks associated with contaminated x-ray garments. Additionally, I will review the recommendations of the governing bodies. Attendees will leave armed with a much better sense of how they can develop a game plan to implement in their respective departments on behalf of staff and patient safety.

Please join me on Wednesday, July 12 from 1:45-2:45PM for an interactive discussion on the best practices in caring for these high touch objects. This presentation will be eye-opening and surprising to many attendees in discovering that these highly contaminated surfaces have been hiding in plain sight for so long. Those with weak stomachs should be forewarned!


  1. Jaber M, Harvill M, Qiao E. Lead aprons worn by interventional radiologists contain pathogenic organisms including MRSA and tinea species [abstract]. J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2014;25(3 Supplement): S99-S100.
  2. Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths. Available at: www.hospitalinfection.org. Accessed May 26, 2017.
  3. Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC) Guidance Documents. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/hicpac/recommendations/index.html. Accessed May 26, 2017.

Justin McKay, BA, MS is a content expert and speaker who provides CE approved educational presentations on this topic across the United States. He can be reached at jlmckay3@yahoo.com.

One comment

Post a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s