Despite the incredible advancements in medical technology, many people die every day due to infections. What may come as a surprise is that many of those infection are obtained in hospitals all over the U.S. Having effective and robust infection prevention programs in hospitals is critical to patient and staff health, and to the containment of potential infectious outbreaks.
Hospital-acquired infections (HAI) can be reduced by implementing strong training programs, a thoroughly administered hand washing and hygiene program, on-going education on infection prevention for hospital employees, and an informed and effective cleaning staff.
In the event that a patient does contract an HAI, special cleaning procedures should be taken to limit the spread of the infection. In addition to regular cleaning, a room that holds an infected patient should be thoroughly cleaned with an all-purpose cleaner and disinfected. The additional cleaning may seem time consuming, but preventing the spread of infectious disease is worth the extra effort.
Hospital-wide Cleaning Procedures
Germs are found in more places than just an infected patient’s room, however, which means that effective cleaning and disinfecting procedures should take place throughout a hospital on a regular basis.
High-use areas in hospitals that should receive special attention from cleaning staff include:
- Infected patients’ rooms
- Common areas and stairways
- Waiting rooms and offices
- Nurses stations
- Information desks and seating areas
- Hospital cafeterias and dining facilities
One of the simplest and most effective ways of preventing the spread of infection is by having hospital staff and visitors practice proper and regular hand washing. By using liquid or foaming hand soaps and thoroughly scrubbing hands for 20 seconds or more, nurses, doctors and visitors can significantly reduce that amount of germs carried on their hands.
According to the World Health Organization, hand washing should be performed before touching a patient, before any cleaning procedures, after exposure to body fluids, after touching a patient, and after touching a patient’s surroundings.
The effectiveness of a program to reduce hospital infections should be measured with tangible results. Hospital staff can use an adenosine triphosphate (ATP) meter to measure levels of bacteria on point of touch surfaces and other common use areas in a hospital. Randomizing this type of testing can help give hospital staff a sense of how clean their surroundings are at any given time. This information can also inform cleaning staff about what procedures work best for preventing the spread of infection in hospitals.
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