Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Do not sit on the bed

For these good reasons

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 01 April 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c1861
  1. Simon F Hill, consultant microbiologist and director of infection prevention and control1
  1. 1Poole Hospital, Poole, Dorset BH15 2JB
  1. simon.hill{at}

    It is difficult to be sure which of the infection control measures introduced by hospitals are essential to maintain the recent reductions in meticillin resistant Staphylocoocus aureus (MRSA) bacteraemias and Clostridium difficile infections. However, without stringent precautions, healthcare workers will pass such pathogens, and many others (coliforms producing extended spectrum beta lactamases (ESBL), norovirus), between patients. Going from one bed to another and sitting on it will efficiently transfer shed bacteria and sometimes viruses between patients through carriage on clothes.

    Healthcare wokers can be caring and compassionate and give sufficient time for explanations to patients without the need to sit on the bed: usually lack of time is the issue. A comprehensive drive to get staff to decontaminate hands before and after touching patients or contaminated surfaces is useless if they then sit on consecutive beds on a ward.1 One sided, sensationalist viewpoints do nothing to promote good infection control practice. The BMJ should have aired the view of someone in infection control as a counter-argument.


    Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c1861


    • Competing interests: None declared.


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