In the United States, we often have the luxury to assume that water is
uncontaminated and safe. Most of the time, this is true. However, at least a small
amount of bacteria is present in any water system. In shower hoses, water may
sit for hours or days without being used. The stagnant water acts as a reservoir
for already present bacteria to reproduce until the water is flushed out with the
Certain hospitalized patients are especially susceptible to opportunistic pathogens
sometimes found in water. At highest risk are those whose immune systems are
greatly compromised or suppressed. At the University of Minnesota Medical
Center – Fairview, the patients with the weakest immune systems reside in the
bone marrow transplant units. Here, water quality is of the utmost important.
Two methods were employed to reduce contamination in hospital showers. First,
standard shower hoses were replaced with silver lined shower hoses in patient
rooms. Silver ions are a known antimicrobial that are released into the water by
the silver lining on the inside of the shower hose. Second, bacterial levels were
measured before and after flushing out stagnant water. Silver ions showed varying
success while flushing was consistently effective in reducing contamination.
Additional contributor: Andrew Streifel (faculty mentor).
Preventing Waterborne Nosocomial Infections by Using Silver Ions to Reduce Bacterial Contamination in Hospital Showers.
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