Tourniquets conceal superbugs……

This is the title of an article from the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA)  posted by my twitter colleague @chemosabe from Australia.

Design/Setting: A prospective study in a tertiary hospital to collect and analyse reusable venesection tourniquets for the presence of MROs —methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), and extended-spectrum β-lactamase and metallo-β- lactamase-producing Enterobacteriaceae — using a sensitive enrichment method. Tourniquets were collected and tested during a 10-week period between September and November 2010.

Results: The overall colonisation rate of 100 tourniquets randomly collected from general wards, ambulatory care areas and critical care areas was 78%. MROs were isolated from 25 tourniquets collected from a variety of hospital locations, including general wards, the intensive care unit, burns unit and anaesthetic bay. MRSA was isolated from 14 tourniquets and VRE from 19;
both MRSA and VRE were isolated from nine tourniquets. There were no microorganisms isolated from 22 tourniquets.

Conclusion: Reusable tourniquets can be colonised with MROs and may be a potential source of transmission of MROs to hospitalised patients.

This makes sense and should not be a total surprise, yet we see many nurses and lab technicians re-use tourniquets.I honestly have no idea why they would re-use tourniquets other than simply a practice carried on not knowing it’s not a good practice.

I would admit I was once guilty of re-using my “lucky” tourniquet when starting a peripheral IV. As a new IV nurse, I honestly believed that each time I used my lucky tourniquet, I would always get the vein on the first try.  I continued to use my lucky tourniquet and didn’t even think of cleaning it fearing the “luck” would be washed off. HAH!! What an idiot I was then..young and stupid!! My IV team nurse manager told me to throw my lucky toruniquet away and that we would start using IV start kits with “lucky tourniquets” in each kit designed to be discarded after use. Wasn’t she a doll?

Yes, tourniquets should be single patient use as stated in the 2011 INS Standards of Practice..S 31 Tourniquets…don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. There several other articles about MRSA and tourniquets reuse. This MJA article is the latest one I’ve seen on this topic.

For details on this article, click here

Thanks to Glen (@chemosabe) for sharing this article.