Contamination of renal patients' hospital chart covers with vancomycin-resistant enterococci: Handle with care

Edward Zimbudzi, Rhonda L. Stuart, Tony M. Korman, Despina Kotsanas

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Background Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) have been increasingly associated with patients with renal failure attending large metropolitan teaching hospitals. Monash Medical Center has been following guidelines issued by the Department of Human Services to reduce the spread of VRE, but unfortunately this has had limited impact, especially in the renal unit. In an attempt to investigate the causes of the sustained VRE prevalence in the renal unit, this study sought to determine if renal patient chart covers were contaminated with VRE and if there was any genetic similarity to patient VRE isolates. Method Using convenience sampling, chart covers of patients colonised or infected with VRE were swabbed from July to September 2010 (n=46). Samples were also collected from chart covers of non-VRE patients. Molecular typing of all matching VRE patient and chart isolates was performed using pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) by the public health laboratory (Microbiological Diagnostic Unit, University of Melbourne). Results None of the patients who were VRE negative (n=14) had contaminated chart covers. VRE was recovered from two drug chart covers (patient A and B) from the 31 VRE positive patients sampled. One patient (patient C) was misidentified as a VRE patient for two weeks and was subject to contact precautions while being dialysed, yet three chart types belonging to this patient were found to be contaminated with VRE. Conclusion The findings of this study demonstrate that it is possible for patients' hospital chart covers to be contaminated with VRE even though there was no genetic similarity to the current patient strain. In this regard, the study reveals that patient charts may have an important role in spreading VRE.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)538-541
Number of pages4
JournalAustralasian Medical Journal
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Patient chart covers
  • Renal patients
  • Vancomycin-resistant enterococci

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