MRSA infection on ambulances? Maybe it’s a matter of disinfection before the refilling process.

The studies on the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) continue and the problem has allegedly been found in the refilling process of oxygen tanks. So, what is the fundamental passage to take most care of?

Investigations on the dangerous and deadly MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, carry on. The focus is on the emergency medical vehicles which provide patients’ transportation in the US. Cody Vaughn Gibson at the Department of Natural Sciences, Calhoun Community College in Alabama published a study in the EMJ (Emergency Medicine Journal) in which he enquires whether the equipment on the American ambulances aids the transmission of MRSA.

This ‘superbug’ has been detected on O2 tanks carried by three ambulances based at an emergency medical services (EMS) station in Alabama. Researchers affirm that infections are very difficult to treat because these bacteria are resistant to common antibiotics.

Could the presence of MRSA on oxygen tanks due to a lack of universal disinfection protocols for O2 equipment?

Gibson assures that the focus of the study is on O2 cylinders because they require exchange during the refilling process, which could potentially result in the spread of MRSA over a large geographical area. A universal protocol would be beneficial as it would outline an evidence-based method for disinfection which would also avoid compromising the integrity of the O2 cylinder. Indeed, by questioning to many of EMS staff, they were not aware when oxygen tanks have been disinfected.

The key to this situation is the refilling process. It is well known that ambulances are reservoirs for MRSA, so O2 cylinders tend to be grouped with other MRSA contaminated equipment.  The difference between O2 cylinders and other equipment is that the refilling can take an MRSA contamination, because O2 cylinders, potentially MRSA contaminated, are transported to and from refilling facilities and possibly exchanged between healthcare facilities.

So, Gibson assures that the real problem doesn’t reside on the ambulance board, but in the management of the purchasing oxygen tanks. Purchasers must be aware that that equipment can carry MRSA, so when tanks arrive must be cleaned up with a process which includes removing all organic matter and using a suitable disinfectant. Additionally, O2 cylinders could be disinfected at the refilling facilities, perhaps by using UV light.

Further studies must be carried out to follow the trend of this case and the hope is that EMS providers, O2 refilling companies, biologists, and other personnel will acknowledge this study and work toward a plan to address these issues.

 

 

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