30 April 2024
How long do nosocomial pathogens persist on inanimate surfaces?
New work from Porter et al. offers a timely update to a classic study.
Healthcare hygiene plays a crucial role in the prevention of healthcare-associated infections; patients admitted to a room where the previous occupant had a multi-drug-resistant bacterial infection are at an increased risk of colonization and infection with the same organism if we do not know how to clean the surfaces appropriately.

A 2006 systematic review by Kramer et al. found that certain pathogens can survive for months on dry surfaces. A new review from Porter et al. of Cabrini Health and Monash University, Australia, published in the Journal of Hospital Infection offers an update to Kramer et al.’s work, providing contemporary data on the survival of pathogens relevant to the healthcare environment.

The group systematically searched Ovid MEDLINE, CINAHL and Scopus databases for studies that described the survival time of common nosocomial pathogens in the environment. Pathogens included in the review were bacterial, viral, and fungal. Studies were independently screened against predetermined inclusion/exclusion criteria by two researchers. Conflicts were resolved by one of two senior researchers. A spreadsheet was developed for the data extraction. The search identified 1736 studies. Following removal of duplicates and application of the search criteria, the synthesis of results from 62 included studies were included.

117 organisms were reported. The longest surviving organism reported was Klebsiella pneumoniae which was found to have persisted for 600 days, but many common pathogens of concern to infection prevention and control teams can survive or persist on inanimate surfaces for months.

The data supports the need for a risk-based approach to cleaning and disinfection practices, accompanied by appropriate training, audit and feedback which are proven to be effective when adopted in a ‘bundle’ approach.

How long do nosocomial pathogens persist on inanimate surfaces? A scoping review. Porter, L. et al. Journal of Hospital Infection, Volume 147, 25-31