Proper cleaning and disinfection require adequate time
Infection prevention protocols in the health care setting are paramount in providing the cleanest environment possible. Hospitals are constantly asked to do more with less—less time, less money, less space.
Proper cleaning and monitoring of cleanliness require adequate time. According to studies, more than 50% of health care surfaces are not properly disinfected, leaving behind pathogens that increase the risk of infection by 39 – 353% for the next patient who enters the room.1 Environmental services staff often feels pressure to turn a room; however, cutting cleaning time can leave behind harmful germs. Cutting corners for time can range from no disinfecting at all (trash and dash) to disinfecting only high-touch points, leaving behind harmful pathogens and potentially having adverse outcomes the next patient.
The AHE states that, “Time adjustments may be needed due to factors such as the size of the room, number of high-touch surfaces and the amount of furniture in the room…” While the recommended cleaning time in 2009 was 25-30 minutes for an occupied patient room and 40-45 minutes for a terminal clean, more superbugs like C. diff and Acinetobacter baumanii have emerged, which means more time should be taken to ensure these hard-to-kill pathogens are eradicated.
In addition to adequate time, EVS workers should receive adequate training on various components of proper cleaning including dry/dwell time for disinfectants. Proper cleaning of health care environments should be a top priority for hospitals, and this does not happen without a strong EVS team who is dedicated to cleaning a room thoroughly.
The emergence of highly-resistant microorganisms means that health care facilities, not just hospitals, need to look forward at what changes can be made now to help in the future. The current cleaning practices are not enough; facilities need to spend the time and money to educate their staff on infection prevention practices, chemical awareness and reevaluate the time constraints administration puts on environmental service workers to turn rooms faster.
Pushing throughput generates money but puts patients at risk. No-touch disinfection such as UVC disinfection is one way that health care facilities can help to ensure the environment is taken out of the question, and epidemiologists can focus on other emerging problem areas.
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- Weber, D., et al (2016). ‘No touch’ technologies for environmental decontamination: focus on ultraviolet devices and hydrogen peroxide systems. Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases, 29:000-000.