The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

2010 OPEN FORUM Abstracts


Mark D. Babic1, Livia Matt2, Sherry Babic3, Frank Sandusky1; 1Respiratory Care, Fairview Hospital, Cleveland, OH; 2Microbiology, Fairview Hospital, Cleveland, OH; 3The Respiratory Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH

Background: Hospitals are now required to disclose their infection rates to the public via the internet, and therefore are under pressure to reduce the rate of nosocomial infections. Medicare reimbursements for such infections are nonexistent. Oxygen tanks brought into a hospital could be a carrier of infectious material. Once in the hospital oxygen tanks are used on several different patients without being cleaned prior to each use. It is the policy of this hospital to place all portable oxygen tanks in a holder attached to the patientsÂ’ bed rather than laying a tank on the bed. It is important to note that in cases of emergency tanks may be inadvertently placed on the patientÂ’s bed during a rapid transport. Pathogenic organisms may be transferred from patient to patient through the use of portable oxygen tanks. Method: 30 E cylinders (Praxair Grab and Go) were randomly selected for this study. Each tank was labeled and numbered with a green sticker and cultured prior to being placed in use. Cultures were obtained by placing blood agar plates on the handle, liter flow control knob, and the side of the tank, just below the regulator. After initial cultures were obtained, oxygen tanks were thoroughly cleaned using germicidal disposable cloths and then put into use. Prior to returning the oxygen tanks to their distributor they were re-cultured in the same manner to determine if they had become contaminated during hospital use. Results: Of the initial 30 cultures all grew mixed Bacillus bacteria, 4 grew mixed Staphylococci, 2 grew Zygomycota. After cleaning each tank and putting them into use, only 20 of the tanks were returned and recultured. Of those cultures 19 grew mixed Staphylococci, and 14 grew mixed Bacillus bacteria. Conclusion: Although certain strains of Bacillus are pathogenic, the mixed Bacillus found on the tested oxygen tanks was non-pathogenic and normally classified as a common environmental contaminant found in soil. The Staphylococci found on the tested tanks was classified as normal skin flora, unlike some of the more pathogenic forms. Zygomycota is a fungus that produces spores which are naturally occurring and are unharmful to healthy individuals. However, to the immunocompromised patient this fungus can be harmful. In conclusion, portable oxygen tanks do not appear to be a contributor to nosocomial infections. However, extra precautions (i.e. cleaning) should be taken when using portable oxygen tanks for the immunocompromised patient. Sponsored Research - None