Patients checking into hospitals may soon have their noses swabbed by doctors in an effort to stop the spread of hospital-acquired infections.

If the patient is found with the risk of a common bacterium, the nose should be cleaned and treated using an antibiotic nasal gel and full body wash, according to researchers in the Netherlands.

Their study found that it was possible to cut bacteria by 60% and take two days off a typical 14-day stay.

In as many as half a million cases in the US each year infections occur at the site of surgery and 30% of those infections are caused by strains of the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus in the nose and on the skin.