Researchers: Residents’ hands should be washed more often.

Nearly a quarter of hospital patients entered post-acute care facilities with a multi-drug-resistant organism on their hands, finds a study in JAMA Internal Medicine.

University of Michigan researchers swabbed the hands of 357 patients at six post-acute facilities. Eighty-six carried at least one drug-resistant organism upon admission.

About 14% carried VRE, while nearly 11% tested positive for MRSA.

The same patients were tested two weeks later and monthly through 180 days, or until discharge. In follow-up tests, slightly more than 10% had acquired one or more new drug-resistant bacteria.

Because post-acute patients are more likely to need assistance with activities of daily living and frequently leave their rooms, researchers theorize their hands would be more likely to touch environmental surfaces, healthcare workers and other residents.

“This, combined with frequent antibiotic use in PAC patients, increases the probability that MDROs introduced to a PAC facility will be transmitted to other frail patients and to healthcare workers — and, most important, that the MDRO will persist in the facility,” the researchers wrote.

The authors suggested both acute and post-acute care facilities adopt more enthusiastic patient hand-washing policies.