Investigation of hospital sanitary ware as reservoirs of persistent antimicrobial resistant pathogens and links to bloodstream infections: Implications for infection prevention and control

Infections caused by bacteria lengthen patient stays in hospital and increase the complexity of treating the patient. These bacteria are frequently antibiotic resistant superbugs, like MRSA or CPE. Once the bacteria is in a patient it is a danger to the patients' health. These bacteria can survive and live outside the human body in areas that we come into daily contact with such as toilets, sinks and showers. Irish hospitals have infection prevention and control (IPC) teams that work to stop infections spreading. However, they must prioritise patient areas such as beds, the people they come into contact with and anything being put into the body like needles. This team have analysed antibiotic resistant bacteria capable of surviving in water and outside the body for many years. We know they can survive in water and grow in toilets, sinks and showers, especially in the drain. We also know from speaking with the hospital staff that these drains are very difficult to clean and need maintenance staff to remove them so are cleaned less often than e.g. door handles. Irish hospital waste systems are old and get blocked, this leads to waste coming back up the drains. This project will look at the bathroom areas across four hospitals over time and compare the bacteria in the bathrooms to those infecting patients. We want to know what antibiotic resistant bacteria are persistently in the patient bathrooms and how similar are they to the bacteria infecting patients in Irish hospitals and globally. The final goal is to provide the evidence needed for the IPC teams to be able to remove these bacteria and reduce the levels of patient infections from antibiotic resistant bacteria. This will reduce the duration of hospital stays and the burden and costs on our healthcare system.

Award Date
01 July 2022
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Dr Fiona Walsh
Host Institution
Maynooth University
Investigator Led Projects