Hospital floors, yet another source of Hospital-Acquired Infections

The list of potential areas of contamination in hospitals seems to keep growing, leading us to identify more sources of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) and making hospital cleaning continuously more complicated. To add to this, researchers are now finding that hospital floors are a significant source of hospital-acquired infections. Every day, hospital and clinic floors are flooded by thousands of people. Shoes soles, wheels from equipment, such as monitors or stretchers and bodily fluids all contribute to the contamination of hospital floors.

It seems so obvious; floors are dirty in general. Hospital floors must be even dirtier. However, as Koganti, et. al. (2016) describes,

“… hospital floors are often heavily contaminated but are not considered an important source for pathogen dissemination because they are rarely touched. However, floors are frequently contacted by objects that are subsequently touched by hands (e.g., shoes, socks, slippers). In addition, it is not uncommon for high-touch objects such as call buttons and blood pressure cuffs to be in contact with the floor.”

(Koganti, et. al. (2016).

In addition to this, shoe soles and wheels on equipment also frequently touch hospital floors. Shoes of healthcare professionals can lead to the spread of infection since these workers are visiting many different patient rooms. Similarly, equipment such as monitors, stretchers or infusion pumps all have wheels which touch the floors of multiple hospital rooms.

Now you might be thinking, ‘but surely hospital floors are routinely cleaned?’ While that is true, researchers are now finding that much of the floor cleaning that is done is relatively ineffective since the bacteria is able to reproduce so quickly. So, what can be done to help reduce the risk of hospital floor contamination?

A good hygiene program for hospital floors, to reduce the risk of contamination

The cleaning and the disinfection of floors are essential elements of an effective hygiene program for hospitals. Regular floor maintenance implies the systematic elimination of hidden bacterias, which can be achieved by using vacuums, mopping and other elimination processes.

A good floor disinfection program consists of using effective disinfectants/detergents and procedures that are notable for reducing the risk of contamination. It is also important that cleaning equipment be properly cleaned and maintained, so that bacteria doesn’t spread when cleaning.

Cleaning hospital floors seems like a daunting task, especially since bacteria has been able to reproduce and spread itself so quickly. Healthcare facilities will need to become more exigent with their floor cleaning programs, if they are going to seriously tackle the threat of hospital-acquired infections.

Source : 
https://www.infectioncontroltoday.com/environmental-hygiene/shoe-sole-and-floor-contamination-new-consideration-environmental-hygiene

Water, a source of hospital-acquired infections?

Hospital-acquired infections are a serious threat in healthcare facilities today and researchers keep finding new sources of these infections. We know that sources of HAIs include surfaces, high-touch objects, hands and medical devices, but did you know that these infections can also occur due to the water and plumbing systems in healthcare facilities?

Source: Public Domain Pictures

According to Infection Control Today (2018), “Potable and utility water systems in healthcare settings are reservoirs and vectors of Hospital-acquired infections, resulting in pneumonias, bacteremias, skin infections, surgical site infections, eye infections and others.”

Hospitals are major users of potable water, whether it be for drinking, bathing, hand-washing or rinsing medical devices. It is therefore important that healthcare facilities realize that the water entering their facilities is not considered sterile.

Why is the water in plumbing systems infected? The design of and water use patterns in premise plumbing creates biofilms, which provide shelter and food for harmful bacterias. According to Infection Control Today (2018), “Biofilms in premise plumbing systems are complex ecosystems, and it is within these biofilms that bacteria, fungi and amoeba find the food, water and shelter they need.” Many bacteria develop in the biofilms, such as Legionella, Ancinetobacter aumanniii, Aspergillus flavus, etc.

Legionella – what is it and how does it affect patients in a healthcare setting?

Legionella colonies

Hospital-acquired infections

       Source: Wikimedia Commons

Legionella is one example of a bacteria that is found naturally in water. This bacteria is known for causing Legionnaires’ disease: a severe form of pneumonia. This disease is one of the most significant waterborne infections. Legionnaires normally has a mortality rate of only 10%, however, if acquired in a hospital, this rate goes up to anywhere between 25-50% (Infection Control Today, 2018)! Hospitals experience the highest number of outbreaks of Legionnaires disease (compared to other types of buildings) due to having a large number of patients with weakened immune systems or that have chronic diseases. It is important to note that the majority of Legionnaires cases in hospitals are due to the drinking water system.

How to reduce the risk of wHAIs: education and water management programs

So now that we are aware of waterborne hospital acquired infections (wHAIs), is there a way to reduce the risk that potable water poses to healthcare facilities? Infection Control Today (2018) suggests both education and water management programs as possible solutions to reducing the wHAI risk. Firstly, through education, it is important that healthcare workers know that potable water does carry bacteria and does cause an increase in HAIs. Second, once this idea of water carrying bacteria is understood, it will be important to implement water management programs. There can be no standardized water management programs, as all facilities differ in factors such as age of establishment and system, overall design of plumbing system, populations served, etc. Some hospitals have already tried different methods of water disinfection. Examples of these methods used to reduce risk include the use of sterile water in high-risk patient areas, engineering controls and point-of-use water filters.

To summarize, healthcare facilities must realize the risk that water and plumbing systems pose to their patients and employees. Hospital-acquired infections are one of the leading causes of death in North America and it is therefore crucial that hospitals take action against any source that could spread these infections. Education and water management programs are the best ways to help reduce the risk of wHAIs, according to Infection Control Today (2018).

Learn more about Hospital-acquired infections in this free webinar

Source: Infection Control Today. Vol. 22. No. 2. February 2018. 

Medical hygiene monitoring badges: how new technology is helping to prevent the spread of microorganisms

Hygiene and cleanliness are already monitored closely in hospitals and healthcare facilities. Hand sanitation is a crucial hygiene practice for both medical professionals’ well-being, as well as their patients. However, according to TrendHunter (2014), hand hygiene compliance in US hospitals is only achieved 50% of the time. And this is only an example of hand hygiene in the US. Studies would probably show similar, if not worse, percentages in countries across the globe. That is why Biovigil invented a medical hygiene monitoring badge.

Source: Pixabay

The Biovigil monitoring badge is specifically made for hand sanitation. The badge can be clipped on to a scrub or lab coat. It reminds healthcare workers to clean their hands when they leave or enter a patient’s room. It also works by telling either healthcare professionals or patients if their hands have been properly sanitized by turning green when the worker places their hand over the monitor. The badge also collects data on hand sanitation and sends it to be analyzed. While these badges are not heavily used yet, they could prove to be very efficient in eliminating the spread of hospital-aqcuired infections.

It is not, then, unreasonable to ask what other sort of technology could be developed in order to better monitor hygiene and sanitation in healthcare facilities. With the technological resources we have today, it is highly possible to create new products such as this. For now, most hygiene monitoring technologies revolve around hand sanitation. But as we’ve seen in other posts, there are way more sources of contamination and spread of bacteria than just hands; hospital bed mattresses, marked medical instruments, surface damages on medical equipment, etc. Why not create a technology that monitors the hygiene of these things as well? Similarly to the hand sanitation monitor, there could be monitors for other medical equipments that alert healthcare cleaners to check if they are clean and safe to use.

 

Source: https://www.trendhunter.com/trends/biovigil

An enzyme to destroy biofilms

One can not stop the progress. The discovery of an enzyme capable of preventing the production of a biofilm, this polymeric protective layer produced by bacteria that prevents antibiotics and surface disinfectants from functioning well, could ultimately revolutionize the fight against nosocomial infections.

perturbation-biofilm

The team at the McGill University Health Center, which includes Dr. Donald C. Sheppard, has published a study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Their hope is that this technology will be the subject of human clinical trials in Canada within 5 years and be used in hospitals within 10 years.

From the abstract:

We demonstrate that glycoside hydrolases derived from the opportunistic fungus Aspergillus fumigatus and Gram-negative bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa can be exploited to disrupt preformed fungal biofilms and reduce virulence.

What is a biofilm?

My colleague Rémi Charlebois described biofilms as follows:

Biofilms found on surfaces are often derived from a complex colony of microorganisms producing polymers that allow them to adhere better to the surface and facilitate colony life. In short, a biofilm is like a city for microbes. Man has learned to tame these biofilms and can use them to treat wastewater or produce certain molecules such as natural plastics. However, the presence of unwanted biofilms could be harmful and can lead to infections.

Biofilms are also found on the skin and medical devices. Thus, according to the article of Le Devoir:

Biofilms, a highly sticky matrix of proteins and sugar polymers made by bacteria to protect themselves, are attached to the skin, mucous membranes or the surface of biomedical materials, including catheters, tubing, heart valves and other prostheses Which become preferred entry points for infection.

In the same article, Dr. Sheppard quotes:

Biofilms are produced by molecules that defend against our immune system or against antibiotics with this shell that is 1000 times more resistant than the organisms that produce and proliferate in these biofilms.

An enzyme that acts as a “destructive machine” for biofilms

In short, the enzyme discovered was modified to destroy the biofilms instead of forming them. This is a new strategy that can reduce nosocomial infections in healthcare centers.

Watch this video about biofilms (25 minutes, french)

Sources:

http://www.ledevoir.com/societe/sante/501939/des-chercheurs-percent-le-secret-de-la-resistance-de-certaines-bacteries

http://www.lapresse.ca/sciences/medecine/201706/27/01-5111114-avancee-majeure-contre-les-infections-dans-les-hopitaux.php

Free Webinar: Fighting Healthcare Associated Infection with Environmental Hygiene

Fighting Healthcare Associated Infection with Environmental Hygiene.


The main objective of this webinar is to review the basics of cleaning and disinfection:

  • The updated burden of HAI’s in Canada
  • Why do we disinfect
  • Best practices in cleaning and disinfection
  • Using the right product
  • Validation technique

This 40 minutes long webinar was originally broadcast on December 15th, 2016. Watch it now on replay for a limited time!

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The main objective of this webinar will be to review the basics of cleaning and disinfection :

  • The updated burden of HAI’s in Canada
  • Why do we disinfect
  • Best practices in cleaning and disinfection
  • Using the right product
  • Validation technique

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Clorox bleach wipes destroy C. difficile in five minutes!

 

2013-01-29-CloroxBot

10% of admitted patient will contract an HAI

The ministry of Health and Social Services estimates that in Quebec, between 80 000 and 90 000 hospitalized patients will present a nosocomial infection, which represents 10% of admitted patients. In addition to the measures suggested in the action plan on prevention and control of nosocomial infections 2010-2015, healthcare centers can count on an effective cleaning product: Clorox bleach disinfecting wipes.

Clorox Bleach Wipes are pre-humidified

Since March 2011, Clorox bleach wipes are effective for killing the spores of C. difficile after a contact time of 5 minutes. The wipes are pre-humidified with a stable solution of sodium hypochlorite diluted at 1:10, that is the recommended concentration by the American Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They are also homologated for the destruction of 31 other pathogen agents in one minute.

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