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Comments, Opinions, and Brief Case Reports
December 8/22, 2003

Relative Risk of Physicians and Nurses to Transmit Pathogens in a Medical Intensive Care Unit

Arch Intern Med. 2003;163(22):2785-2786. doi:10.1001/archinte.163.22.2785

Transmission of pathogens from patient to patient by the hands of health care workers (HCWs) is the most important source of cross-infections in hospitals, especially in intensive care units (ICUs). Three variables related to behavior of HCWs are important in cross-transmission of pathogens: adherence to hand hygiene, the extent of HCW cohorting, and the number of interactions between HCWs and patients (interaction rates).1 Although levels of adherence with hand hygiene have been studied extensively,2 little is known about the extent of cohorting of HCWs, the number of interactions per hour between HCWs and patients, and how these parameters quantitatively influence the potential relative risk of transmission of microorganisms for different groups of HCWs.

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