Bacterial contamination of patients' medical charts in a surgical ward and the intensive care unit: Impact on nosocomial infections

Sing On Teng, Wen Sen Lee, Tsong Yih Ou, Yu Chia Hsieh, Wuan Chan Lee, Yi Chun Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Background and purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine the degree of bacterial contamination of patients' files, and to compare the colonized bacteria between files from the surgical intensive care unit (ICU) and the surgical ward at the Wan Fang Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan. Methods: 180 medical charts were randomly selected from the surgical ICU (n = 90) and the surgical ward (n = 90). The charts were sampled using sterile swabs moistened with sterile normal saline. The swabs were immediately transferred to trypticase soy broth and incubated aerobically for 48 h, then subcultured to separated sheep blood and eosin-methylene blue agars. Microorganisms were identified by the standard methods used in the microbiological laboratory. Results: Ninety percent of charts in the surgical ICU (n = 81) and 72.2% in the surgical ward (n = 65) were contaminated with pathogenic or potentially pathogenic bacteria (p = 0.0023). Coagulase-negative staphylococci (CoNS) were the most commonly isolated bacteria, both in the surgical ICU (n = 40, 44.44%) and in the surgical ward (n = 48, 53.33%). Several bacteria isolated from the charts, including multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter bauman- nii, Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, and Klebsiella pneumoniae, had the same antibiogram as the same bacteria isolated from patients. Conclusion: This study showed that the patients' charts in the ICU were usually contaminated with pathogenic and potentially pathogenic bacteria. Contaminated charts can serve as a source for cross-infection. Health care personnel should wash their hands before and after contact with the chart to reduce the nosocomial infection rate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-91
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Microbiology, Immunology and Infection
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2009


  • Cross infection
  • Intensive care units
  • Medical records

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Immunology and Allergy


Dive into the research topics of 'Bacterial contamination of patients' medical charts in a surgical ward and the intensive care unit: Impact on nosocomial infections'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this