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Contaminated Humidifiers

Thomas P. Crowley, MPH
JAMA. 1978;240(4):348. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03290040026015.
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To the Editor.—  Smith and Massanari's article (237:795, 1977) should receive special attention by those institutions that still use room humidifiers for delivery of so-called adjunct humidification.The infectious hazards associated with room humidifiers were reported by Grieble and associates1 in 1970. Why these devices remain in use for respiratory care services is puzzling.In the JAMA article the authors initially report that these devices are "uncommonly reported" as sources of infections. This may indicate a shortage of bacterial surveillance since room humidifiers enhance the hostagent-environment interaction for causing disease.Stimulated by the Grieble1 study in 1970, we collected data at Kansas University Medical Center, Kansas City, Kan, for more than 300 humidifier days. This data showed nearly all humidifiers to be contaminated, many confluently. The range of use was from one to 16 days and averaged 4.8 days. The organisms recovered included Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Serratia marcescens, and


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