The sink as a correctable source of extended-spectrum β-lactamase contamination for patients in the intensive care unit

J Hosp Infect. 2014 Jun;87(2):126-30. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2014.02.013. Epub 2014 Apr 18.


Between December 2010 and April 2012, intensive care unit (ICU) patients in our hospital were infrequently colonized with extended-spectrum β-lactamase-positive bacteria (ESBLs). We hypothesized that these ESBLs originated from patients' room sinks, and this was prospectively investigated by weekly culturing of patients and sinks during a 20-week period. ESBLs were isolated from all 13 sinks. Four patients became colonized with ESBLs that were genetically identical to ESBLs that had previously been isolated from the sink. One of these patients died of pneumonia caused by the ESBL. Transmission from sinks to patients was stopped by integrating self-disinfecting siphons to all sinks on the ICU.

Keywords: Amplified fragment length polymorphism; Extended-spectrum β-lactamase-positive bacteria; Hospital reservoir; Intensive care unit; Sink.

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Microbiology*
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / enzymology*
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / methods
  • Intensive Care Units
  • beta-Lactamases / metabolism*


  • beta-Lactamases