Growing up, the mental picture about how neat a hospital should be, was one that I thought should be pristine. From the hospital grounds to the kitchen, the bed spreads, the toilets, bathrooms, the reception and every segment of the hospital facility; should be above a certain threshold if cleanliness.
A formite is any object, or substance, that is capable of carrying micro-organisms and transferring them from one individual to another. It could be the human skin, bedding, hair, clothing etc. Formites are a common cause of hospital acquired infections, what is medically know as Nosocomial Infection.
Other classical examples where germs can be preserved on its surface include stethoscope and neck-ties. These two are commonly associated with Health care providers. A study has shown that the risk of transfer of nosocomial infections among health care personnel is far higher than observed in other groups, like family group, school group etc.
Nosocomial infections, or Hospital Acquired infections, are infections that a patient get from the hospital after visiting the hospital that was not initially present when the visit was made.
Health care providers like doctors, nurses, lab scientist are at an increased risk of acquiring this infections, that are most times deadlier than the infection in the community. A single stethoscope can be shared by more than one hospital staff, a sick hospital staff usually draw a deeper sense of emotion from other healthy ones, so that some times, health care personnel forget they also need to be protected against these formites to avoid being infected.
By doing the needful, which is sterilising or disinfecting appropriately, these formites can become less of a haven for these micro organisms that may sometimes reach epidemic proportions.
Careful consciousness of our personal and environmental hygiene, would in the long run be beneficial to both patients, and hospital worker.