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Minimising infection risks
Why are hygiene and high standards of cleaning being vital in the healthcare sector and what are the consequences of poor hygiene standards?
Our understanding of the role that the hospital environment plays in causing Healthcare-Acquired Infections (HAIs) continues to evolve. On any given day, about 80,000 patients have at least one HAI (WHO, 2011). Healthcare without infection is a key to patient’s safety goal.
We must consider the survival of transmissible pathogens in the healthcare environment. Pathogens have been recorded living from two hours to 30 months on a surface. So, that is why we believe the environment and surface cleaning is as important as hand hygiene protocols in combating HAIs.
Higher risks
Previous patient illness can affect the risk for the next patient in the same room or ward. The most challenging aspect of cleaning and hygiene in the healthcare sector for the team is that in most hospitals, the cleaning team cleans once a day – but people have an expectation the hospital will always be clean. An American study found that over 80 people come in and out of the room in a typical patient day. And the bed rail is touched 256 times a day!
Secondly, the amount of technology and equipment in a hospital room such as ultrasound equipment, MRI scanners or blood pressure monitoring devices, creates its own challenges.
Patient as customer
Generally, Europe is moving to a US style set-up where the patient is viewed as a customer. Hospitals are encouraging reaching out to their cleaners to reach out to their patients to check that they are happy because patient satisfaction scores are clearly key. Now other countries have similar ambitions because happy patients tend to recover better.
People are understanding the importance of keeping the environment in a hospital not just looking clean but being hygienically clean to reduce infections. They are therefore putting more focus on training people and making sure those people are motivated to do a good job.
Job title change
I don’t think you’d find anyone calling themselves a housekeeper now. Environmental services is the accepted name. People are moving away from housekeeping to convey that this is a step up in terms of the risk they are managing.
What are the most important challenges facing the healthcare sector and in turn the service providers working within it?
One is hand hygiene because it is the perennial issue. The second now is surface/ environmental hygiene and the third is one is trying to stop the overuse of antibiotics. That’s what keeps infection prevention people up at night because the more you use antibiotics, the more resistance there is – ultimately a doomsday scenario if you will but one that I hasten to add is not just around the corner.
Operationally, the reduction in beds in western Europe is a good thing. If you can get people in and out of hospital quicker, it is better for them because they are back with their families or in their own homes. It reduces risk of infection because they are not around for as long and you don’t have to build such large hospitals – but what it does do is put pressure on the turnaround of the rooms and the cleaning.
Efficiency expectation
Because you have a high occupancy all the time you really have to make sure you can clean those rooms efficiently and effectively and deal with the pressures that people don’t want to be kept waiting when they are being admitted to hospital.
The final challenge is understanding that balance between how quickly you can clean a room and how effectively you can clean it. So the faster your disinfectant works, the better it is. And if you have a fast system of touchless disinfection at the end, all the better.
Article Source: https://www.cleanindiajournal.com/minimising-infection-risks/
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