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World J Microbiol Biotechnol. 2014 Feb;30(2):385-7. doi: 10.1007/s11274-013-1458-2. Epub 2013 Aug 11.

Do wheelchairs spread pathogenic bacteria within hospital walls?

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Clinical Microbiology Laboratory, Affiliated to the Faculty of Medicine, The Baruch Padeh Medical Center, Bar Ilan University, Poria, Galilee, Israel,


Transmission of nosocomial pathogens has been linked to transient colonization of health care workers, medical devices and other constituents of patients' environment. In this paper we present our findings concerning the presence of pathogenic bacteria on wheelchairs, and the possibility that wheelchairs constitute a reservoir of these bacteria and a means of spreading them. In this work we examined four wheelchairs, each from a different location: the internal medicine ward, the emergency department, the general surgery ward and wheelchair stockpile of the transportation unit of the hospital. The samples were collected and cultured on different media. Bacterial identification and antimicrobial sensitivity testing were carried out using accepted practices in the microbiology laboratory. We found that wheelchairs are contaminated with several pathogenic bacteria, among them antibiotic-resistant strains such as MRSA, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Acinetobacter baumanni etc. Since there is no specific guideline protocol that deals with disinfection and cleaning frequency of wheelchairs in hospitals, we suggest each hospital to write one.

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