When it comes to healthcare-associated infection (HAI) prevention strategy in healthcare facilities – where does it start?There have been countless studies suggesting it starts and ends with hand hygiene, but recently surface disinfection has become a hot topic in the infection prevention space, in fact at the 2018 Interclean conference there was an extra emphasis on healthcare cleaning. Also, it has been suggested in quite a few recent studies that there’s more to HAI prevention than just proper hand hygiene alone:
- A March 2017 study in the American Journal of Infection Control found that floors in patient rooms were often contaminated with MRSA, VRE, and C. difficile, with C. difficile being the most frequently recovered pathogen found in both CDI isolation rooms and non-CDI rooms.
- A December 2017 study in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology found that hospital room corners are the most difficult to clean, and most common sites for C. diff spores to persist even after terminal cleaning and decontamination.
- A September 2016 article from Canadian nonprofit The Infection Prevention Strategy discusses how improper infection control procedures, such as laundering and replacement of cubicle curtains, can help reduce the risks and spread of HAIs.
- A December 2017 study in Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control found that carefully following recommended concentrations and dwell times for disinfectants within hospital settings is crucial to eliminating HAI-causing bacteria
- A May 2018 study in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology found that enhanced cleaning measures for hospital beds are needed after a correlation was found between the spread of infection from prior bed occupants to new bed occupants. In fact, a 583 percent increase in risk of infection was found.
From hospital floors to curtains to hospital beds, each of these locations have one thing in common: a potential to spread HAIs throughout a healthcare facility. However, they also have one common barrier: Environmental Services (EVS) professionals and effective surface disinfection solutions.
EVS professionals, and proper surface disinfection, are often a healthcare facility’s first line of defense when it comes to preventing HAIs. After all, even if they are not interacting with patients in the same way that doctors or nurses do, EVS professionals interact indirectly with every patient and visitor that enters the facility be ensuring the environment has been properly sanitized.
From waiting areas, restrooms, patient rooms, and breakrooms to exam rooms, EVS professionals could potentially track a pathogen from one room to the next if not thoroughly educated and trained on the dangers of cross contamination, and the precautions needed to ensure proper cleaning and disinfection. That is why environmental disinfection education and awareness is just as critical as a proper hand hygiene education program.
procedures to limit cross contamination and effectively stop infections in their tracks. They play perhaps more of an important role in the fight against HAIs than most people realize. As such, it is essential to equip them with not only the proper tools, but an understanding of how much a difference they can make in patient safety and the strategy for infection control.
As the saying goes, "One well-trained, well equipped, conscientious housekeeper given the right tools and enough time to clean a patient’s room can prevent more infections than a room full of doctors can cure."[i]
While improving hand hygiene compliance among staff and patients will still have the greatest impact in the fight against HAIs - coupled with an effective environmental disinfection strategy at your healthcare facility and you’ve got a winning program.
From nurses to patients, and from CEOs to EVS personnel, overall hygiene - not just hand hygiene - seems to be the key to an effective HAI prevention program and infection control strategy.