The idea for PurThread first arose in a hospital board room following the presentation of grim statistics on hospital acquired infections (HAIs). One million Americans suffer from HAIs each year, with a mortality rate of 100,000 and a price tag many times that. Controlling the spread of HAIs has become a priority for healthcare facilities the world over, with emphasis being placed on careful hand hygiene and thorough disinfection of the patient environment.

Fabric surfaces like patient bedding and gowns, scrubs and lab coats, privacy curtains and furniture upholstery are known to harbor bacteria and germs that contribute to HAIs, as seen in the scholarly publications below. They're also often overlooked in standard infection control procedures and are hard to keep clean. PurThread is working with partners and regulators to confirm that textiles containing PurThread's highly effective antimicrobial technology are another valuable tool in the infection prevention toolbox.

The Patient Environment Matters in the Battle against Hospital Infection

Environmental contamination makes an important contribution to hospital infection | J Hosp Infect. 2007 Jun; 65 Suppl 2:50-4

"Environmental contamination may contribute to transmission of healthcare pathogens when healthcare workers contaminate their hands or gloves by touching contaminated surfaces, or when patients come into direct contact with contaminated surfaces."

"Transmission of MRSA from contaminated environmental sources to patients has occurred in a variety of settings."

Contamination of Hospital Surfaces is a Persistent Problem

Survival of Enterococci and Staphylococci on Hospital Fabrics and Plastic | J Clin Microbil. 2000 Feb;38(2):724-6

“One critical factor for transmission of a microorganism from a person (patient or health care worker) to the environment and then to another person is the ability of that microbe to survive on that environmental surface.”

“Data in this study indicate that staphylococci and enterococci can survive for days to months after drying on commonly used hospital fabrics and plastic… Viability of enterococci on fabrics tended to be longer than their reported survival on other hospital surfaces.”

“One can easily postulate how these fabrics could become vectors for the spread of staphylococcal or enterococcal organisms as a health care worker moves from one patient to another, and the sleeve of his lab coat, for example, contacts different patients.”

Touching Frequently Contaminated Curtains May Pass that Contamination to Healthcare Worker Hands

Contamination of Hospital Curtains with Healthcare-Associated Pathogens | Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2008 Nov;29(11):1074-6.

“In a culture survey, we found that 42% of hospital privacy curtains were contaminated with vancomycin-resistant enterococci, 22% with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and 4% with Clostridium difficile.”

“Hand imprint cultures demonstrated that these pathogens were easily acquired on hands.”

“Hospital curtains are a potential source for dissemination of healthcare-associated pathogens.”

Harmful Bacteria May Move from Surface to Surface via Hands of Healthcare Workers

Transfer of Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci via Health Care Worker Hands Arch Intern Med. 2005 Feb 14;165(3):302-7.

“We sought to determine the frequency of VRE transmission from sites in the environment or on patients’ intact skin to clean environmental or skin sites via contaminated hands of HCWs during routine care.”

“Vancomycin-resistant enterococci were transferred from contaminated sites in the environment or on patients’ intact skin to clean sites via HCW hands or gloves in 10.6% of opportunities. Controlling VRE by decontaminating the environment and patients’ intact skin may be an important adjunctive infection control measure.”

Additional studies related to the contamination of fabric surfaces in extra-clinical settings can be found below.

Food Handling and Cross-Contamination

Consumer Food Handling Practices Lead to Cross Contamination | Food Protection Trends, Vol 35, No. 1, p.36-48

“Cloth towels were the most contaminated contact surface, and towels were frequently handled by participants.”