Eliminate hidden germ hazards at your hospital
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Every hospital administrator knows that a clean, safe environment for patients is a top priority. There are great, new innovations in terms of bacteria control that many hospitals are implementing — a study from Duke University Health reports that the use of ultraviolet (UVC) light machines are on the rise, for instance.
When UVC machines shine in an empty hospital exam or patient room for just 30 minutes, they're highly effective at killing bacteria like MRSA and VRE. Yet, research also shows that, surprisingly, many areas in the hospital are overlooked when it comes to harboring hidden germs — and often aren't disinfected thoroughly as a result. Focus your cleaning protocol more thoroughly in the following places:
The sinks in your patients' rooms.
A study from the American Society for Microbiology/University of Virginia reports that when healthcare providers or the sick wash their hands, multidrug-resistant forms of bacteria are expelled into the sink's drainpipe.
The germs can then line the pipe, and the more the sink is subsequently used, the more water can splatter the germs back up onto surfaces where infection or re-infection can occur. Daily disinfection of drains can help stop the problem.
Your laundry facility.
Research published by Oxford University Press reported that soiled linens can spread the nasty stomach bug C. difficile. In many hospital laundry rooms, dirty sheets are placed in close proximity with clean laundry. The simple solution: establish "dirty" and "clean" areas separately for washing, drying, sorting, folding and ironing.
According to research published in the American Journal of Infection Control, hospital floors are always underestimated as a germ breeding ground — especially in terms of the objects that touch them.
The journal's published research found that out of 100 surveyed patient rooms, 41 percent of the floors were heavily contaminated with germs, which then can easily transfer to high-touch surfaces left on the floor like patients' personal items, chairs, or dropped objects.
Make sure floors are cleaned thoroughly multiple times per day, and place extra tables or carts in rooms that personal items can be placed on.
Your nurses' scrubs.
A Duke University Hospital study found that 33 percent of nurses who wore scrubs with antimicrobial fabric over three shifts still accumulated dangerous bacteria on their clothing. (It's thought that the amount of antimicrobial content that can be applied to textile simply isn't as protective as needed.)
The researchers recommend gowns and gloves be worn whenever possible instead of just scrubs, especially when nurses are caring for critically ill patients as well as patients on regular wards.
Your hospital lobby, gift shop, and coffee areas may not be receiving frequent disinfection beyond daily wipe-downs and vacuuming — but could be breeding grounds for nasty bugs. Make sure your cleaning crew uses hospital-grade disinfection in these places after hospital foot traffic slows each night — it will go a long way to keeping your visitors and employees healthy.
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