Hospitals are busy, chaotic places, so it is important to keep up with routine cleaning, disinfection, and sterilization. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about one in every 25 hospital patients develops an infection after receiving medical treatment in a healthcare facility, and many of these cases could have been prevented. Additionally, in 2011 there were an estimated 721,800 healthcare-associated infections, which led to approximately 75,000 deaths.
Not surprisingly, prevention is critical to minimizing the risk of healthcare-associated infections, and that starts with a clean environment. While hospitals work to maintain “hospital clean” (a measure of cleanliness routinely maintained, monitored, and audited), preventing and containing healthcare-associated infections requires going above and beyond merely cleaning surfaces that look dirty.
Check for signs outside each patient’s room that indicate precautions need to be taken before entering. If you are unsure, ask a nurse or hospital staff member to assist you. Precautions may range from simply washing hands or using hand sanitizer to wearing a gown or a face mask. As a best practice, custodians should always wear gloves regardless of patient contact precautions. This is for the health and safety of the custodian and the patient, as well as other employees, patients, and visitors.
High-touch surfaces, or areas that frequently come in contact with hands, require more frequent cleaning and disinfection than other areas because of how easily our hands spread germs. Remember to properly disinfect high-touch surfaces that are in the “hot zone,” or frequently in contact with hands, including those of patients, visitors, and hospital staff. High-touch surfaces include:
- Bed handrails
- Nurse call light/box
- Over-bed tray table
- Light switches
- Toilet seat
- Toilet flush handle
- Toilet handrails/grab bars
- Faucet handles
- Door handles
- Patient chairs
- Computer keyboards
Remember to wash your hands often, as it is just as important as disinfecting the hard surfaces in a hospital. Simply washing your hands can help prevent infection contamination in your hospital facility. Many dangerous germs are spread by touching counters, floors, tray tables, bed rails, IV pulls, light switches, toilets, and call buttons. If a gown or face mask was required to enter a patient room, make sure to also remove these items before moving on to the next room.
With increased awareness and proactive steps toward prevention, research shows rates of some healthcare-associated infections can be decreased by nearly 70 percent. Consistency in cleaning procedures and hand washing are essential, and you can play an important role in reducing the risk of everyone coming in contact with harmful germs.
For more information on cleaning and sanitizing your facility, contact GCA Services Group at firstname.lastname@example.org.