Hospital beds are potential reservoirs of bacteria in hospitals. Preventing contamination of the bed and providing a cleaner surface should help prevent hospital-acquired infections (HAIs). Most hospital beds are cleaned between patients (terminal cleaning) using quaternary ammonia compounds (quats).
The study had two objectives: identify levels of bacterial contamination on beds (including the mattress and bed deck) and evaluate a new launderable cover.
Hospital beds on a bariatric surgery ward were randomized to either receive or not receive a launderable cover (Trinity Guardion, Batesville, IN). Bacterial counts on the surface of the mattress, the bed deck, and the launderable cover were then collected using Petrifilm™ Aerobic Count Plates (Petrifilm™, 3M™, St. Paul, MN, USA) (Petrifilm™) at three time periods (before patient use, after discharge, and after terminal cleaning). Standard hospital linen was used in all rooms.
The launderable cover (n = 28) was significantly cleaner prior to patient use than were the cleaned mattresses (n = 38) (1.1 CFU/30 cm2 vs. 7.7 CFU/30 cm2; p = 0.0189). The mattresses without launderable covers became significantly contaminated during use (7.7 CFU/30 cm2 on admission vs. 79.1 CFU/30 cm2 after discharge; p < 0.001). The mattresses with launderable covers did not become contaminated (3.0 CFU/30 cm2 on admission vs. 2.5 CFU/30 cm2 at discharge; p = 0.703). After terminal cleaning, the mattress surface contamination decreased to 12.8 CFU/30 cm2 (median 3 CFU/30 cm2; SD 7.8), but the bed deck was more contaminated (6.7 CFU/30 cm2 after discharge compared to 30.9 CFU/30 cm2 after terminal cleaning; p = 0.031).
Terminal cleaning fails to eliminate bacteria from the surface of the hospital mattress. The launderable cover provides a cleaner surface than does terminal cleaning with quats, and the cover protects the bed from contamination during use.