You are here: Home / Studies / Association of sink drains with antibiotic resistant infections in hospitalized patients

Association of sink drains with antibiotic resistant infections in hospitalized patients

Status:  Analysis in progress/New funding applied for

What is this project?

This project is a series of interlinked studies to better understand the contribution of sink and shower drains, and toilets to risk of antibiotic resistant gram negative infections in intensive care and other high dependency units.

Why are we doing this?

It has become clear that water drainage systems (sink and shower drains and toilets) are a reservoir for gram negative bacteria in hospitals, particularly P. aeruginosa and carbapenemase-producing Enterobacterales. Several important questions about this reservoir remain unanswered:  How important is it: what fraction of gram negative infections in ICUs have drains as a source?  How are bacteria transmitted from drains to patients?  What can be done to mitigate the risk to patients?  We are undertaking a number of studies to better understand this problem and find solutions to it.

What studies have been done so far?

  • We have surveyed Ontario hospitals to understand how many have identified antibiotic resistant infections from sinks drains, and whether sink drains are routinely investigated as potential sources.
  • We have tested sink and shower drains in 8 hospitals in south central Ontario to identify how many are contaminated with carbapenemase-producing gram negative bacteria.
  • We have demonstrated that replacing standard chrome plated sink traps with copper traps reduces the concentration of gram negative bacteria on sink surfaces and in the air around sinks.
  • We have tested the effectiveness of a drain cleaning protocol in eradicating resistant gram negative bacteria from sink drains.

Who is being asked to participate?

  • To date, these studies have used hospital databases and studies of the hospital environment and hospital policies. Studies have not yet involved active participation by patients or workers.

How long will this project last?

We are continuing to assess new technology to prevent and manage sink drain contamination and to reduce the risk to patients from this reservoir.

Who can I contact if I want to hear more about this project? 

Call the study office at Mount Sinai Hospital, 416-586-4800, ext. 2761 or 1-800-668-6292.

You will be directed to the TIBDN research personnel.


Dr. Allison McGeer, Principal Investigator