Shoes and Wheelchair Wheels Transferred MRSA From Room to Room in LTCFs

Mary Madison, RN, RAC-CT, CDP
Clinical Consultant – Briggs Healthcare

The title of this blog is one of the highlights from a study published September 30, 2022 in the American Journal of Infection Control.

Other highlights include:

•  Floors and shoes are potential sources for dissemination of pathogens

•  A benign virus inoculated on the floor disseminated to high-touch surfaces

•  Studies of floor or shoe disinfection are needed

“We demonstrated that methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) contamination on floors in the rooms of colonized long-term care facility residents was frequently transferred by shoes to adjacent patient rooms. A benign virus inoculated onto the floor was transferred to floors and high-touch surfaces in adjacent rooms and the nursing station. These results suggest that shoes may serve as a vector for dissemination of healthcare-associated pathogens from rooms of MRSA-colonized patients.”

The study is a pay-for-view but related articles on the topic are available using that hyperlink on the website (see 1st paragraph/sentence of this blog).

Here’s another  report on this study from CIDRAP – University of Minnesota:

The results of this study should certainly catch the eye of the Infection Preventionist in your facility as well as all members of  your staff. While it’s an understatement to say that studies of floor and shoe disinfection are needed, HCP familiar with infection prevention know that we bring our environment into any building (as well as take our work environment to the grocery store, day care and our homes) when we wear our duty shoes outside of the facility we work in. (Moms also know that their children bring in all sorts of “stuff” on the bottom of their shoes when they come inside.) Furthermore, we know that pathogens live on the floors of our facilities so we must be diligent about keeping our floors as clean as possible. Frequent cleaning of wheelchairs should be done in every LTC facility, including the wheels. I encourage you to consider leaving your duty shoes in the facility and wearing a different pair to and from work each shift.

What’s your facility’s policy about duty shoes? Routine cleaning of wheelchairs/geri-chairs, including the wheels? Food for thought.