Korean J healthc assoc Infect Control Prev.  2020 Dec;25(2):105-114. 10.14192/kjicp.2020.25.2.105.

Environmental Culture of Bacteria at the Intensive Care Unit of a Tertiary Hospital in Korea: A Consideration for Improving Medical Environmental Safety and Healthcare-associated Infection

  • 1Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, Gil Medical Center, Gachon University School of Medicine, Incheon, Korea
  • 2Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, Institute of Public Health and Environment, Incheon, Korea
  • 3Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, Service of Infection Control, Gil Medical Center, Gacheon University School of Medicine, Incheon, Korea


Intensive care unit (ICU) infections cause major health and financial problems worldwide. Inanimate surfaces and environmental contamination can play a role in the crossinfection of pathogens and associated patient infection. Here, we aimed to identify the pathogens that are present in the ICUs.
This study analyzed bacterial cultures on 160 environmental samples from the ICU at a tertiary hospital in Incheon.
From cultures of 160 samples, 407 bacteria of 38 species were isolated; of these, 109 (26.8%) were gram-negative and 298 (73.2%) were gram-positive. The common isolation sites were keyboards (38 strains), bed linen sheets (average head, waist, and foot seats) (36 strains), bedside rails (33 strains), and curtains (27 strains). The common bacteria isolated were coagulase-negative staphylococci (CNS) (222 strains, 54.5%), Acinetobacter baumannii (48 strains, 11.8%), Pseudomonas aeruginosa (33 strains, 8.1%), and Enterococcus faecium (24 strains, 5.9%). A total of 60 multidrug-resistant strains were isolated. There were multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii (MRAB) (n=32), multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa (MRPA) (n=2), vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE) (n=20), and carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) (n=6).
It was confirmed that large numbers of multidrug-resistant bacteria, such as VRE and CRE, colonized the environment in the ICU of this tertiary hospital. Taken together, the findings of this study will inform consideration of new intervention plans for in-hospital medical infection control programs in the future, especially in critical care units.


Bacteria; Multidrug resistance; Intensive care units; Cross infection; Infection control
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