Pillows: The Forgotten Fomite

The pillow is an oft-overlooked link in a chain of cross-infection between patients

Read below a peer-reviewed article published in Canadian Journal  InfectionControl.tips in May 2017

Dr. Duncan Bain and David Woolfson review focused on a pillow as an oft-overlooked link in a chain of cross-infection between patients and examined various links of that chain. Also, evidence is presented to support the existence of viable transmission routes of infection between patients, pillows, and the ambient environment. Increased environmental contamination is found to increase infection rates and cleaning of the surface environment while the pillow interior remains infected is found to be ineffective in controlling contamination.

In the review, it was concluded, that the infected pillow has several things in common with the infected human in terms of its capacity to spread infection. The human being coughs and sneezes, so generating a periodic aerosol of contaminated material into the ambient surroundings. The conventional coated pillow with stitched seams does something very similar: approximately 2 litres of humid air contaminated with microorganisms carried in droplet surpension are aerosolised into the environment, every time the patient’s head is placed on the pillow. This has the capacity to recolonize the nearby environment, negating the effectiveness of any cleaning regimen. Also in common with the human vector is the tendency for pillows to circulate around hospitals, or even between hospitals (Turk et al, 2017).

Also adding, that infected pillows are likely to be a significant vector for infection, and the introduction of a CE marked, validated barrier pillow, alongside an audit protocol which considers pillows and their serviceable condition, is a simple, inexpensive, and prudent measure.

Read more about the review “Pillows: The Forgotten Fomite” by Dr. Duncan Bain and David Woolfson, here  https://infectioncontrol.tips/2017/05/16/pillows-the-forgotten-fomite/ 

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