Infection control never ceases to be a hot topic in the healthcare design industry, so when a recent development was briefly recapped during our local 7 o’clock news a few days ago, my ears perked in immediate interest, as I’m sure many of yours did, too.

It turns out a study conducted on hands-free faucets at The Johns Hopkins Hospital showed that the modern incarnation of the hand-washing sink proved to be contaminated with more bacteria than the age-old manual hot and cold water fixtures.

The results were so dramatic that the hospital took out the new devices it studied from patient care areas and is electing to use only manual fixtures in patient care areas in its new clinical buildings currently under construction.

Although the high-tech faucets cut daily water consumption by more than half, Johns Hopkins researchers identified Legionella growing in 50% of cultured water samples from 20 electronic faucets in or near patient rooms, but in only 15% of water cultures from 20 manual faucets in the same areas.

Weekly water culture results also showed half the amount of bacterial growth of any kind in the manual faucets than in the electronic models.

While it’s still unclear exactly why the results were as such, researchers say that standard hospital water disinfection methods, complemented by public utilities treatment, didn’t work as well on the more complex systems. In summation: The new systems turned out to offer more surfaces where bacteria can become trapped and grow.

To read the full release from Johns Hopkins, go here.