The silver lining of disposable sporicidal privacy curtains in an intensive care unit

Am J Infect Control. 2014 Apr;42(4):366-70. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2013.11.013.


Background: The environment is a well-known source of health care-acquired infection. Because of the known risk of contamination, patient privacy curtains require frequent changes to decrease the risk of spread from patients to curtain and visa versa.

Methods: Fourteen disposable sporicidal privacy curtains were tested from December 2012 to June 2013 while hanging in a busy intensive care unit. Significant bacterial pathogens were identified and total bacteria enumerated as colony-forming units. Antimicrobial activity of curtain swatches was also tested against a range of bacteria in the laboratory. Measurements were recorded as zone of inhibition and contact inhibition. A cost analysis to replace standard curtains with disposable sporicidal curtains was also undertaken.

Results: Cultures grew low numbers of skin and environmental microorganisms with no methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or Clostridium difficile detected. Vancomycin-resistant enterococci were recovered in very low numbers from 2 curtains where vancomycin-resistant enterococci-infected patients had been located. Privacy curtains demonstrated antimicrobial activity against C difficile and 13 additional bacterial pathogens.

Conclusion: We conclude that disposable sporicidal privacy curtains are cost-effective and best replaced at 6 months in a high-risk area such as an intensive care unit.

Keywords: Cost analysis; Disposable privacy curtains; Intensive care unit; Nanoparticle silver; Sporicidal.

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Disinfectants / pharmacology*
  • Disposable Equipment / economics
  • Disposable Equipment / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / economics
  • Infection Control / methods
  • Intensive Care Units*
  • Patient Isolation / methods*
  • Silver / pharmacology*
  • Time Factors


  • Disinfectants
  • Silver