Environmental cleaning and disinfection is a critical component of infection prevention strategy within healthcare facilities.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in 25 U.S. hospital patients acquires at least one HAI.  An ideal housekeeping program will reduce the risk of healthcare associated infections (HAIs) while enhancing the facility’s image.

infection prevention in hospitals

The following tips will help environmental services teams to create clean and safe patient care environments:

1.    Select the right disinfectant

When selecting a disinfectant, consider its effectiveness against pathogens of concern, its impact on surfaces and assets, and its safety profile.  Determine if the dwell time required can be realistically achieved within your cleaning processes and consider disinfectants registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

2.    Focus on high-touch surfaces

Some microorganisms that shed into the environment through skin and body fluids can cause diseases and live on surfaces for extended periods.  Since high-touch surfaces near patients are often the most contaminated, they present the highest risk and require more frequent cleaning.

Frequent and thorough cleaning of high-touch surfaces such as bed rails and controls, door knobs, light switches, and bathroom hand rails and faucets, helps reduce the spread of pathogens from healthcare workers or visitors to other patients.

3.    Practice proper hand hygiene

Pathogenic microorganisms can be transferred from environmental surfaces to hands, and then to other people or surfaces. To prevent this cross contamination, staff should regularly wash or sanitize their hands.  If hands are visibly soiled, hand washing is critical to remove the dirt from hands.

4.    Measure what matters

Because pathogens are hard to see, it can be difficult to determine if high-touch surfaces were effectively cleaned.  Instituting a programmatic approach that facilitates objective monitoring of surface cleaning and tracking those results so that gaps can be identified is the first step in a continual improvement process.

For an expanded look at these tips and to learn how to create a comprehensive training program, read the article authored by Diversey Care’s Carolyn Cooke, Vice President, North America for the Healthcare sector, in Facility Care  here.