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Journal of Hospital Infection



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Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are infections that patients acquire while receiving medical treatment in a healthcare facility. During ambulatory transport, the patient may be exposed to pathogens transmitted from emergency medical service (EMS) personnel or EMS surfaces. The aim of this study was to determine whether organisms commonly associated with HAIs have been detected on surfaces in the patient-care compartment of ambulances. Five electronic databases – PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, Embase and Google Scholar were used to search for articles using inclusion and exclusion criteria following the PRISMA checklist. Inclusion criteria consisted of articles published in English, between 2009 and 2020, had positive samples collected from the patient-care compartment of a ground ambulance, and reported sample collection methods of either swab sampling and/or Replicate Organism Detection and Counting (RODAC) contact plates. Studies not meeting these criteria were excluded from this review. From a total of 1376 articles identified, 16 were included in the review. Organisms associated with HAIs were commonly detected in the patient-care compartment of ambulances across a variety of different surfaces, including blood pressure cuffs, oxygen apparatuses, and areas of patient stretchers. A high prevalence of pathogenic bacteria in ambulances suggests that standard protocols related to cleaning compliance may not be effective. The primary recommendation is that designated subject matter experts in infection prevention should be incorporated as liaisons in the pre-hospital setting, acting as a link between the pre-hospital (e.g., ambulance transport) and hospital environments.


Ambulance; Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacterales (CRE); Contamination; Emergency medical service; Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase (KPC); MRSA


Environmental Microbiology and Microbial Ecology | Pathogenic Microbiology

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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