APIC and ASHE clarify research on electronic faucets

Healthcare Engineering and Infection Control Associations Release Statement to Clarify Recently Presented Research on Electronic Faucets

Washington, DC, April 15, 2011 – In a joint statement to their members about the potential infection risks associated with electronic-eye faucets, the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) and the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) urged healthcare facilities to review additional literature before making policy changes regarding hands-free faucets.

A recent abstract highlighted in the media has been raising concern about the potential for higher occurrence of Legionella spp. in electronic-eye faucets.  A limited investigation of water faucets conducted by Johns Hopkins Health System, and presented at the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) Annual Scientific Meeting on April 2, 2011 (Sydnor, et.al., “Electronic-eye Faucets:  Help or Hindrance to Infection Control and Prevention”), found that 50% of cultures of water from 20 electronic, infrared activated faucets compared with 15% of 20 manual faucets revealed Legionella spp.

“This has been presented as an oral session at a scientific meeting,” said ASHE and APIC in a statement posted to the organizations’ websites.  “It has not been published in a peer-reviewed, scientific journal. As such it is an interesting study, but any major changes in policy or actions by others should await publication as more details will be revealed, and peer-review always improves the context and significance of findings. This study also needs to be considered in the context of other published studies and evidence-based guidelines.”

The statement issued by ASHE and APIC pointed out that there have been several studies which found that manual, handle-operated faucets were the source of bacterial infections in patients, as well as another study of electronic faucets which did not find these to be a source of bacteria.

“Electronic faucets do help with water conservation as hospitals are an industry noted for its high use of water,” said ASHE and APIC. “This feature also lessens risk of recontamination of hands after washing as there is no need to manually turn off the water supply after use.”

To read the full statement, visit the ASHE and APIC websites.

The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology’s (APIC’s) mission is to improve health and patient safety by reducing risks of infection and other adverse outcomes. The association’s more than 14,000 members direct infection prevention programs that save lives and improve the bottom line for hospitals and other healthcare facilities around the globe. APIC advances its mission through education, research, collaboration, practice guidance, public policy and credentialing. Visit APIC online at www.apic.org. For consumer-related information, visit www.preventinfection.org.  Follow us on Twitter: 

About ASHE
The American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) is a personal membership group of the American Hospital Association (AHA). ASHE represents a diverse network of 10,000 members dedicated to optimizing the health care physical environment. For information about ASHE, please visit www.ashe.org or call 312-422-3800.