Researchers from the University of Iowa tested the effectiveness of antimicrobial curtains in an intensive care unit at the University of Iowa Hospital & Clinics. 

The authors published results of the study, “A randomized control trial evaluating efficacy of antimicrobial impregnated hospital privacy curtains in an intensive care setting,” in the American Journal of Infection Control

The researchers used three randomized arms to perform analysis of the hospital curtains: two intervention arms and a control arm. The two intervention arms included halamine antimicrobial curtains and halamine antimicrobial curtains sprayed twice weekly with a sodium hypochlorite-based disinfecting spray. The control arm consisted of standard hospital curtains. Samples were collected twice weekly for three weeks to assess pathogenic bacterial contamination. 

In their assessment, the researchers found that the likelihood of remaining uncontaminated was 38% for standard curtains, 37% for the antimicrobial curtains and 60% for the antimicrobial curtains treated with disinfectant spray. They found no statistically significant difference in the amount of time before pathogenic contamination occurred between the three sets. 

Although the researchers did observe a decrease in average colony count for the nontreated antimicrobial curtains compared with the control, the researchers say the difference was not statistically significant. However, hypochlorite spray was found to transiently decontaminate the curtains, but the effects dissipated after 72 hours.

The study has not ruled out the impact antimicrobial curtains can play in health care and the researchers note that further study should be pursued.

“Antimicrobial curtains could have a role in reducing environmental contamination in the health care setting,” the study says. “Future studies should be done to determine the long-term effects of using antimicrobial curtains in health care.”