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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Theatre footwear: a health hazard?

Theatre footwear frequently appears to be contaminated with blood. We assessed objectively the nature and degree of contamination of theatre shoes after cleaning. Two hundred pairs of theatre shoes were randomly selected from three hospitals in South East Wales. Hospital 1 (H1), 100 pairs of shoes, Hospital 2 (H2), 40, Hospital 3 (H3), 60. They were examined for general appearance, the presence of bacterial pathogens and blood, using a leuchomalachite green assay. The majority of shoes were dirty, 63% in H1, 80% in H2, and 95% in H3. Six per cent of shoes in H1, 2.5% in H2 and 0% in H3 were contaminated with staphylococcus aureus. No shoes were contaminated with pseudomonas aeruginosa. Thirty six per cent of shoes in H1, 40% in H2 and 57% in H3 were contaminated with blood. In H1 it was possible to determine the grade of staff to whom the shoes belonged. Fifty eight per cent of consultant surgeons' shoes tested positive for blood, 50% of junior surgeons, 16% of operating department assistants and none of nurses' theatre shoes. The high level of blood contamination following cleaning may pose a potential HIV or hepatitis B risk to patients, manual shoe cleaner and surgeons. We have demonstrated that current shoe cleaning practices are ineffective. We propose methods that should eliminate this risk. Procedures will need to be defined.[1]


  1. Theatre footwear: a health hazard? Thomas, J.A., Fligelstone, L.J., Jerwood, T.E., Rees, R.W. The British journal of theatre nursing : NATNews : the official journal of the National Association of Theatre Nurses. (1993) [Pubmed]
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