Contact patterns during cleaning of vomitus: A simulation study

CDC Prevention Epicenters Program

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background Environmental service workers cleaning bodily fluids may transfer pathogens through the environment and to themselves through contacts. Methods Participants with experience in cleaning of hospital environments were asked to clean simulated vomitus using normal practices in a simulated patient room while being videorecorded. Contacts with environmental surfaces and self were later observed. Results In 21 experimental trials with 7 participants, environmental surfaces were contacted 26.8 times per trial, at a frequency of 266 contacts per hour, on average. Self-contact occurred in 9 of 21 trials, and involved 1-18 contacts, mostly to the upper body. The recommended protocol of cleaning bodily fluids was followed by a minority of participants (2 of 7), and was associated with fewer surface contacts, improved cleaning quality, and different tool use. Participants used different cleaning practices, but each employed similar practices each time they performed an experimental trial. Conclusions Training in the use of the recommended protocol may standardize cleaning practices and reduce the number of surface contacts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1312-1317
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Infection Control
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017


  • Contact frequency
  • Environmental service workers
  • Health care
  • Infectious diseases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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