Patients are becoming more and more informed about the important issue of cleanliness when they visit the doctor's office. This is a good thing, because your patients' concern about germs in the treatment environment should be your concern, and your staff's responsibility.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, a surprising 48 percent of healthcare workers don't wash their hands between patients.

The most common and troubling healthcare-associated infection (HAI) associated with doctor's offices is from the Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) germ — which presents diarrhea and stomach flu-like symptoms, and causes approximately 15,000 deaths per year in the U.S.

The major route of transmission for C. difficile infection in a doctor's office is through touching an infected surface, as it is for infections like colds, flu, pinkeye, and a plethora of other infections you can catch there. Tabletops, magazines in the waiting room, doorknobs and exam rooms are all potential infection sites.

The good news: you can do a lot to reassure your patients that your practice is safe and clean, by following these proactive steps:

Review your office cleaning procedures, and improve whatever needs an upgrade.

Start by visually inspecting the office to make sure it's hygienic, from the waiting room to the exam room to the restroom. Make sure trash is emptied, surfaces are cleaned, old magazines are tossed and hand sanitizer is plentiful and easily accessible for your patients' use.

Question your staff as to the cleaning procedures they are currently using between patients in order to see what is sufficient and what isn't.

Use a professional medical cleaning crew on a weekly basis.

Practices that don't have been found to be breeding grounds for the MRSA virus, which can live up to eight weeks on a mop and 9 weeks on a cleaning towel. It's well worth the investment.

Have your staff use a HEPA filtration vacuum cleaner during daily cleanups to avoid spreading bacteria through the office.

A HEPA vacuum operates by filtering the air in your office, as well as picking up dust, dirt, germs and contaminants. Another benefit: all of the air and debris a HEPA vacuum takes in is sealed in an inner containment area in the vacuum cleaner itself, so nothing escapes back into your environment cutting down on any infection risk.

Establish an open line of communication with patients so that they feel comfortable sharing any concerns they have about contagions in the office.

Make improvements as your patients suggest, and be transparent about the cleaning procedures your staff practices consistently. These steps will help you provide a safe, hygienic experience, and an even better rapport with those you treat and care about.