When developing hospital cleaning procedures and methods, the best practices draw on the people, protocols, and products to ensure clean environments that mitigate pathogen transfer.
Considerations for Developing Hospital Cleaning Procedures and Methods
Elements of the Process
The cleaning process depends on the people, protocols, and products involved. With various surfaces, equipment, and intricate designs, the hospital setting presents a unique challenge. In addition to creating efficient protocols and using effective products to clean and disinfect, hospitals must empower associates to follow these processes.
Frontline associates perform thousands of actions and interventions each day that have the power to transmit pathogens. In addition to technical solutions, such as adopting new products, researching new technology, and reassessing protocols, hospitals must address human factors. Frontline staff's role cannot be overstated; they help protect patients, families, and other hospital staff.
When developing hospital cleaning procedures and methods, healthcare organizations also need to consider risk. The risk of pathogen transmission will determine the frequency, method, and process of cleaning. According to the CDC, risk can be assessed as a function of:
- The probability of contamination
- The vulnerability of patients to infection
- The potential for exposure
Whether a surface is high-touch or low-touch plays into the latter function. Identifying high-touch surfaces is necessary when developing cleaning procedures. These surfaces can vary depending on facility, room, and ward. Common high-touch surfaces include:
- Bed rails
- Bedside tables
- Call bells
- Counters used to prepare supplies and medications
- Edges of privacy curtains
- IV poles
- Light switches
- Patient monitoring equipment
- Sink handles
- Transport equipment
Environmental Cleaning Techniques
Drawing on CDC guidelines, hospital cleaning procedures and methods can follow these general steps:
- Conducting a preliminary visual assessment of the site to be cleaned.
- To avoid spreading microorganisms and dirt, proceeding from cleaner to dirtier areas.
- To prevent microorganisms and dirt from falling or dripping, proceeding from high areas to low areas.
- Cleaning systematically to avoid missing areas, for example, starting at the foot of each bed and moving clockwise in an area with multiple beds.
- Immediately attending to body fluid spills.
Optimizing Safety When Developing Hospital Cleaning Procedures and Methods
Developing procedures that optimize safety calls for a holistic perspective. Having the right people is critical. Highly trained, engaged, disciplined, and passionate associates need to be committed to patient safety and environmental hygiene.
Healthcare organizations must consider everyone's experience in the hospital setting, keeping in mind the safety and engagement of patients and their families as well as clinical staff and frontline associates. That includes support services. Recognizing that support services like environmental services, foodservice, and patient transportation play an essential role in a safe experience goes a long way. These experiences are all integrated.
At the same time, safety disciplines must be broader and take place more frequently in light of the ongoing pandemic, incorporating new technologies where appropriate. Augment disciplined processes like hand hygiene with technologies like Ultraviolent-C, electrostatic applications, air purification systems, and surface barriers to support basic manual cleaning. Hospital cleaning procedures and methods are constantly evolving in light of emerging pathogens and technologies; organizations that continue to review their procedures set themselves up for success.