Hospital curtains used to separate rooms contain potentially harmful bacteria including a type that is resistant to antibiotics, according to a new study from the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine.

Researchers took swab cultures of 43 privacy curtains from the University of Iowa hospitals and found that the "vast majority showed contamination with potentially significant bacteria within a week of first being hung," Reuters reports.

"There is growing recognition that the hospital environment plays an important role in the transmission of infections in the health care setting and it's clear that these (privacy curtains) are potentially important sites of contamination because they are frequently touched by patients and providers," Dr. Michael Ohl, from the University of Iowa, told Reuters.

Dr. Ohl said that the most practical and cheapest action hospitals and health providers must take is to wash their hands after routine contact with the curtains and before interacting with patients.