During a six-month study at Rush University Medical Center, researchers discovered routine mistakes made by healthcare workers that led to the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The study took place in a busy ICU setting so that workers could be observed in real-life situations where slip-ups would be more likely to occur. The purpose of the study was to understand better how contamination happens and what can be done to avoid it.

Researchers studied the actions of 24 doctors, 83 nurses and 95 patients in four intensive care units. They collected 6,000 samples from around the ICU, including items that had touched the patients’ skin, such as blood pressure cuffs and call buttons. They also tested workers’ gloves, gowns and hands before and after interacting with patients. Their tests revealed a routine mistake that was being made when workers shed their protective gowns and gloves.

Even though 90 percent of workers had been trained in the proper way to remove protective garments, almost 40 percent failed to do so in a proper manner. In contrast to guidelines promulgated by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, workers frequently failed to remove gowns and gloves together. The study revealed that removing gloves before gowns increased the occurrence of hand contamination by as much as 10 times.

Mistakes in the medical profession run the gamut from minor mistakes to serious errors that result in a fatality. Despite regulations, some medical professionals fail to follow proper procedures or meet well-established standards of care. When that happens, it is important to hold those individuals accountable for their actions through financial compensation. However, that task might require the services of a law firm with experience in medical malpractice. Such a firm may be able to review a patient’s circumstances and suggest an action plan.