Positive Changes or Incompetence?

Infection Prevention has become a common term among healthcare these days. Due to the rise of Healthcare-associated Infections (HAIs), particularly antibiotic resistant pathogens; prevention has become the forefront in healthcare, causing increased regulation and economic changes. The big question is whether all the changes to help prevent further infections are really necessary or are they put in place to cover up incompetence?

In a recent article published in the American Journal of Infection Control, using direct covert observation or a fluorescent targeting method, only 40% of near patient surfaces are being properly cleaned in accordance with existing policies. Other studies have confirmed that patients admitted into rooms previously occupied by patients with an HAI have a significantly greater risk of acquiring the same pathogen than in a room where the previous patient did not have an HAI. (1)

Proper cleaning and disinfection are vitally important in killing antibiotic resistant pathogens, as well as hand hygiene and education. In the first attempt to achieve an HAI free environment (target zero) should be to look at the gaps in the current policies that are in place. If 40% of near patient surfaces are being cleaned what is going on with the 60% that aren’t and find out why. Could it be wrong chemicals, lack of knowledge or inadequate funding? Proper healthcare cleaning can’t be effectively done without the proper tools, training and budget. If one of these three key components are missing, your target zero environment cannot be achieved. It may seem like a no-brainer to clean a surface but to clean a surface properly and thoroughly in the effort to remove dangerous pathogens takes a lot more then common sense, a bottle of cleaning solution and a hand towel.

There are multiple steps to insure a surface is being cleaned and disinfected. It takes the proper cleaning equipment, such as microfiber vs. cotton and proper attire to prevent cross contamination. Not all cleaning solutions are made specifically for killing the correct pathogens or for application on certain surface. In order to properly kill pathogens with a disinfectant solution, the solution requires a correct kill time and a nonporous surface. If you are more aware of how an antibiotic resistant pathogen can survive, breed, and be killed, you are that much more aware of your surroundings and your involvement in cross contamination. Using the most effective solutions, training and educating a staff and allowing adequate time to properly and thoroughly disinfect an entire facility is going to take money. It cannot be done with a low end budget. Target zero results require full contribution to a proper budget.

People make mistakes; things get missed, overlooked or forgotten. The better we all are at being protective and taking initiative to be a target zero environments for healthcare the safer and healthier everyone in our communities will be.

Article written by: Chanel Schonert, MediClean

1Carling, P. C. & Bartley, J. B. (2010). Evaluating hygienic cleaning in healthcare settings: What you do not know can harm your patients. American Journal of Infection Control, 38 (5), s25-s33.