Best Practices for Cleaning Hospitals to Limit Infection
In addition to engaged and highly trained associates, superior patient experiences require a safe and clean environment. The CDC estimates that every day around 1 in every 31 hospital patients develop at least one HAI, underscoring the importance of infection prevention and cleaning hospitals effectively. Compass One's disciplined 5 Pillars of Safety strategy is a best practice for cleaning hospitals and an integrated approach that mitigates infection transmission and HAIs.
We treat safety in healthcare as a holistic process resting on a foundation of 5 key pillars:
In a hospital setting, any surface can transmit pathogens, from bed rails to wheelchairs to food trays, but hands spread the vast majority of infections. Many infection-causing pathogens are transmitted via the hands of healthcare professionals or patients; hands are the primary source of environmental room contamination.
Hands spread 80% of common infections, so leaders must focus on this type of spread when examining best practices for cleaning hospitals. Healthcare associates should perform hand hygiene at a minimum upon entry and exit of a patient's room using alcohol-based hand rubs.
Hospitals have a wide array of surfaces and equipment as well as intricate designs. As a result, developing effective processes, including a heightened focus on high-touch surfaces, for cleaning hospitals and other healthcare facilities is a must to limit infections. Any process must consider the people, protocols, and products used. By fostering a culture of engagement and teamwork, hospitals can better empower frontline associates to adhere to the protocols designed to keep everyone safe.
Teamwork between support services and clinical staff is also essential for safety. The care experience involves everyone who comes in contact with patients, so hospital leadership must strive to develop a work environment that allows non-clinical support associates to feel valued as caregivers.
Contamination of surfaces and equipment near patients can impact the transmission of pathogens. That makes having a clean, safe zone around each patient critical to maintaining wellness.
Healthcare organizations cannot measure cleanliness by appearance alone. Environmental microbial contamination can occur and be invisible to the naked eye but still pose a significant risk for infecting a patient. Using objective measurement for surface cleanliness is a must. ATP (adenosine triphosphate) cleaning verification, for example, gives healthcare facilities instant feedback on cleaning and disinfection procedures' effectiveness.
Basic cleaning and disinfecting procedures need assistance in high-risk situations. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation can kill bacterial spores, and UV application can destroy inactive microorganisms on surfaces and airborne organisms. Electrostatic applications, air purification systems, and surface-barrier residual applications can augment basic cleaning and disinfecting processes in hospitals.
Hospitals should also embrace emerging solutions to mitigate transmission and reduce HAI events when applicable. Cutting-edge technology and new protocols are continually developed, standardized, and shared nationally. Healthcare organizations that do not accept the status quo and instead look to new solutions and technologies to adjust their overall cleaning and disinfecting processes will take advantage of innovations that can make hospitals safer.