The hospital floor may be an overlooked source of healthcare-associated infection and may help to spread pathogens such as Clostridium difficile and MRSA though contact with high-touch objects, according to a study in the American Journal of Infection Control.

Even though floors are heavily contaminated, because they are not classed as a frequently touched surface, they do not receive as much attention as high-touch objects, they add.

Researchers cultured and examined samples across five hospitals from 318 floor sites from 159 patient rooms (two sites per room), including C. difficile infection (CDI) isolation rooms and non-CDI rooms. They also took samples from the bare and gloved hands of healthcare staff, as well as from other high-touch surfaces including call buttons, medical devices, linen, medical supplies, and clothing.

The results showed that floors in patient rooms were often contaminated with MRSA, vancomycin-resistant enterococci, and C. difficile, with C. difficile being “the most frequently recovered pathogen in both CDI isolation rooms and non-CDI rooms.”

The researchers also found that high-touch objects, including call buttons and blood pressure cuffs, were frequently in contact with the floor, and contact with objects on the floor often led to the transfer of pathogens to hands.