Artificial Nails: Are They Putting Patients at Risk?

From the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), October, 2002.


The use of artificial nails has become a popular fashion trend, and many health care workers are following this trend. There is debate whether artificial nails are putting patients at risk of nosocomial infections. Researchers have shown that the colony counts on artificial nails are greater than the colony counts on native nails. Artificial nails have also been linked to poor hand washing practices and more tears in gloves. These factors lead to an increased risk of transmitting bacteria to patients. This transmission could greatly affect patients because the hospitalized patient’s risk of nosocomial infection is high. The purpose of this article is to review the data related to the bacterial and fungal contamination of artificial nails and their implications for health care workers. Most of the review describes findings of studies of surgical patients and health care workers who work in surgery departments, but the research applies to any area where there is a risk of transferring potential pathogens to immunocompromised patients.

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