During my husband's recent hospital stay, I noticed a potential infection source that has been totally overlooked. Visitors and medical staff are alerted to sanitize hands when entering and leaving rooms and other strategic positions throughout the hospital, but no effort is made to prevent patients from wearing the non-skid hospital-issue socks in bed after walking on the floor.
I watched as my husband was ushered to physical therapy along hallways, over stained carpeting and in and around the physical therapy department. After therapy, he returned on the same bacteria-ridden route back to his room and was placed directly in bed still wearing the socks. When I asked, I was told that it was common practice and the staff seemed unconcerned.
As people change position in bed, they come in contact with sheets and blankets that may have also been in contact with the socks. Leaving these socks on patients adds to the risk of dangerous infections with antibiotic resistant bacteria that all hospitals are concerned with. It is also known that hospital linens and textiles are a source of cross contamination even after washing at elevated temperatures and every effort should be made to minimize additional contamination of these infection sources.
Removing or replacing the patient's socks immediately after walking is a simple, cost-effective measure to reduce the risk of infection and should immediately be adopted as a standard procedure by hospitals.