According to a review of 80 studies, there is little evidence to support the notion that hospitals are efficient in their cleaning practices. As a matter of fact, most of the research disregarded the necessary comparison between the efficiency of different cleaning methods.
Based on the statistics that say roughly one in 25 American patients develop an infection during a hospital stay, researchers thought they would find more hard data on the issue of cleaning hospital room surfaces.
Published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the review not only described the current situation of cleanliness – or lack thereof – in hospitals, but also emphasized that approaching the matter from multiple angles would be in the best interest of the population.
Reducing the risk of hospital acquired infections (HAIs) requires the cooperation of both medical staff and patients, as it includes better hand hygiene practices, antimicrobial management, environmental sanitization and thorough disinfecting.
Senior author of the review, Assist Prof Jennifer Han, an associate healthcare epidemiologist at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, explained that there’s no better time than now to start having a serious conversation about hospital-borne pathogens.
The issue has received plenty of media attention in the past year, as more and more viruses have found their way in and out of hospitals. Health advocates groups have increased their interest in preventative cleaning methods, which work under the motto “Infection Prevention Saves Lives and Money.”
Environmental cleaning is a big part of the focus, one of the most complex processes when it comes to cleaning surfaces inside hospitals. When organic and inorganic residues are removed, the staff follows up with disinfection and monitoring for efficiency.
There are plenty of common HAIs that have been around for a long time, but Professor Han gives credit to the most recent Ebola outbreak for the renewed awareness and raised concerns over hospital pathogens and cleaning methods.
Han’s focus was clear, however, as she reviewed the cleansing techniques used on hard surfaces – think of the many bed rails, tray tables and toilets that are frequently touched by medical staff and patients alike.
Her team researched the best methods that can get hard surfaces clean, ways to monitor the thoroughness of the cleaning and the environmental factors that could help the cleaning process or hinder the environmental cleaning process.
The review highlighted the fact that environmental cleaning is not mere housekeeping – it’s a process that happens mostly behind the scenes in a hospital, but a very important part that includes much more than just cleaning rooms.
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