Healthcare workers sometimes spread harmful bacteria to hospital patients in West Virginia. A study that tracked 125 healthcare workers in an intensive care unit for six months identified errors that could promote contamination by antibiotic resistant bacteria.

In addition to observing doctors and nurses as they performed duties, researchers collected samples from surfaces and people. They tested for the presence of dangerous bacteria on items like blood pressure cuffs, stethoscopes, call buttons and sinks. Researchers also checked workers’ hands, clothing and protective gloves and gowns for contamination. Samples showed that over one-third of workers picked up a drug-resistant bacterium during patient encounters. Places that tested positive for contamination included hands, clothing, jewelry, stethoscopes and mobile phones. About 70 percent of environmental surfaces, like bed rails and blood pressure cuffs, proved to be contaminated.

Putting on or taking off gloves and gowns emerged as leading sources of contamination. Among the workers, 39 percent made mistakes with the donning or doffing of gloves and gowns that did meet standards established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Healthcare workers and medical facilities have an obligation to meet accepted standards of care to reduce the chances of harming patients. When someone suffers medical harm because of medication errors, surgical mistakes or other medical negligence, a doctor or hospital might not be willing to answer questions. The representation of an attorney may aid a person who needs to investigate medical malpractice. An attorney might seek testimony from an independent doctor to determine if a person received care that fell short of proper standards. This evidence may support a lawsuit that strives to recover damages for medical expenses, suffering and lost income. Legal advice may help someone evaluate an insurance settlement offer or make the decision to go to court.