Reducing hospital-acquired infections can reduce morbidity and mortality, length of stay, and the cost of care. One potential source of infection is the patient’s environment and inanimate surfaces. Albert and colleagues compared disposable electrocardiographic (ECG) lead wires to reusable ECG lead wires as sources of infection. Matched intensive care units (ICUs) were randomized to disposable ECG wires vs reusable ECG wires. The researchers found the following:

  • Overall, the infection rate remained very low throughout the trial period.

  • There was no significant difference between disposable and reusable groups in total infection rate.

  • There were no differences in total infection rates per group by ICU type.

  • There were no differences between groups in total infection rates for cases with an ICU stay longer than 48 hours.

The authors suggest that once disposable ECG wires are removed from their original packaging the risk of contamination is...

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