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You've probably seen it on TV detective shows: using a chemical to illuminate blood drops at a crime scene. The same bioluminescent chemical, Luminol, could also help improve infection control in hospitals by detecting trace amounts of blood.


Dutch researchers conducted a study using Luminol in their hemodialysis units, where hepatitis C virus transmission frequently occurs. Although the unit looked clean to the naked eye, Luminol highlighted "extensive contamination" with trace amounts of blood on many surfaces, including dialysis control panels, telephones, and the floor.


Previous research indicates that many workers in dialysis units aren't aware of the risk bloodborne infections for their patients and don't strictly follow gloving and hand-hygiene protocols. Researchers recommend using Luminol to improve cleaning and disinfection efforts and to alert health care workers about contamination in the environment.


Source: Bergervoet PWM, et al., Application of the forensic Luminol for blood in infection control, Journal of Hospital Infection, April 2008.

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