You’re a dirty hospital, aren’t you? Get disinfected

hospitalHospitals need to go clean like Robert Downey, Jr. in 2003 or they can house more infections than a G.I. in Da Nang. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine indicates that cleaning and disinfecting hard surfaces of medical rooms and equipment in hospitals – such as call buttons, bed rails, bedside tables, light switches and toilets – is essential to prevent healthcare-associated infections – also known as HAIs. “The cleaning of hard surfaces in hospital rooms is critical for reducing healthcare-associated infections,” lead author of the study and an assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania Jennifer Han said. One in every 25 hospital patients encounters HAIs during hospitalizations, according to the CDC.

The researchers examined available evidence analyzing strategies for cleaning, disinfecting and monitoring the cleanliness of patient rooms from 80 studies from 1998 to 2014. Six-and-seventy of the studies were primary investigations, and the rest were systematic reviews. Moreover, 61% of the studies focused on cleaning practices, while 18% focused on monitoring approaches, and 21% responded to obstacles in the implementation processes. Randomized and controlled trials were also taken into account, of which five identified surface contamination as the major source of infections. Additionally, the researchers included investigations into the contamination and colonization of pathogens such as Clostridium difficile, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or vancomycin-resistant enterococci, and considered insight from key persons.

Key summary points

  • Environmental cleaning is an important element of an encompassing infection control strategy to prevent healthcare-associated infections.
  • New technologies have led to more interest in assessing environmental cleaning, disinfecting, and monitoring in acute care hospital settings.
  • A major limitation of the evidence base is the relative lack of comparative studies addressing the relative effectiveness of various cleaning, disinfecting, and monitoring strategies.
  • Few studies evaluate clinical, patient-centered outcomes, including patient colonization and healthcare-associated infection rates.
  • Future studies are required to directly compare newer disinfecting and monitoring methods, evaluate the effect of contextual factors on implementation, and assess patient-centered outcomes.

The authors of the study learned about the changes that have taken place concerning cleaning approaches and keeping track of cleanliness in hospitals. “We found that the research to date does provide a good overall picture of the before and after results of particular cleaning agents and approaches to monitoring cleanliness,” Han said. “Researchers now need to take the next step and compare the various ways of cleaning these surfaces and monitoring their cleanliness in order to determine which are the most effective in driving down the rate of hospital-acquired infections.” Study author and assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology hopes the report will create awareness of hospital cleanliness “Many of my clinician colleagues do not necessary have an appreciation for the complexity of environmental cleaning in hospitals,” he said. “My hope would be reviewing this article would help them have a better understanding of those approaches.” Fortunately, there is panoply of cleaning and disinfecting products available via medical supply store online. So hospitals, you don’t have to be all like “me so dirty.” Get your act together, get clean, and we love you long time.

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