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. 

How certain medical instrument marking methods can enable the growth of microorganisms – and what to do about it

In order to make it easier to identify a medical instrument, many doctors use different marking systems.The methods in which medical instruments can be marked are quite strict, in order to prevent the spread of bacteria. For example, instruments cannot be engraved because bacteria can get stuck in the small holes and grow. The article “Instrument Marking Methods Must be Maintained Properly”, by Nancy Chobin, describes three different methods of marking medical instruments and how these methods still have disadvantages and need to be maintained.

medical instrument

Source: Wikimedia Commons

First method for marking a medical instrument

Firstly, instruments are often marked by different colored tapes, however, many healthcare professionals fail to realize that the tape on the instruments can harbour bacteria and must be very carefully maintained. The tape should be replaced as soon as it begins to chip, as those small tears in the tape could allow for microorganisms to grow. According to Chobin “All tape and adhesive residues should be completely removed and the instrument washed before it is re-taped.” It is also stressed that a sharp object should not be used to remove tape, as this could simply create small fissures on the instrument where bacteria could grow.

Two other methods for marking a medical instrument

There are two other methods for marking instruments that are considered “acceptable”; chemical etching and color-bonding. These methods also come with some disadvantages, such as color-bonded instruments also chipping sometimes, however, seem to be more “sanitary” than using tape.

Why is this important? The general goal of healthcare facilities is to improve the health of its patients, while at the same time controlling and preventing the spread of infections and contamination. This means that healthcare facilities should aim to prevent, at all costs, the growth of bacteria. In order to be able to do so effectively, healthcare workers must know where all sources of bacteria may come from.

Source: Infection Control Today. Vol. 21. No. 12. December 2017.

Surface Damage and its implications for healthcare facilities

Preventing and controlling the spread of contamination and infection is of very high importance for healthcare facilities, and it is safe to say that many measures have already been taken in order to reach these goals. However, like many things, there is still much room for improvement moreover when it is about surface damage.

medical equipment surface damage

Source: Shaw Air Force Base

Evidently healthcare facilities use a wide variety of equipment, from monitors to surgical instruments to cleaning tools, and over time, this equipment wears down. Sometimes, equipment will break completely and be unusable, however sometimes there will only be a few scratches or other small damage.  But what happens when these scratches or other forms of damage become shelters and areas of growth for microorganisms? This is an example of how surface damage may not only impede the prevention of bacteria growth, but also provide the microorganisms with a place to grow.

What is surface damage?

According to Infection Control Today, surface damage is defined as:

a quantifiable physical or chemical change from the original manufactured state of an object (surface or device).

While it is recognized that surface damage of medical equipment poses a potential threat in the spread of bacteria in healthcare facilities, there is no standardized method for healthcare workers to determine what is considered surface damage, and at what point the damage is likely to cause the spread of bacteria. In a later blog post, I will discuss the ideal surface damage testing protocol, proposed by Peter Teska et al. in “Infection Control Today.” In this article, the authors discuss ideal methods of avoiding the problems that surface damage presents.

Are your surfaces damaged?

At Lalema, when we talk about hygiene and cleanliness, we offer a wide range of technical and consulting services. Find out more.

You can also read this article about The complete guide for hospital cleanliness.

Source: Infection Control Today. Vol. 21. No. 12. January 2018.

Hospital bed mattresses: An overlooked healthcare hazard (Follow up)

As a follow-up to my previous blog post about the problem of hospital bed mattresses being contaminated, I would like to go into further detail the recommendations provided by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As previously mentioned, the FDA recommends that healthcare facilities take preventative measures against contamination of hospital bed mattresses in four simple steps: inspection, removal and replacement, maintenance and the development of an inspection plan.

Hospital bed matressesSource: Flickr

Inspection involves routinely checking the bed mattress cover for any signs of damage, stains or tears, as well as checking if the bed mattress cover is past its expiry date (Yes – bed covers do have a limited lifespan). It is also important to frequently remove the cover and check the inside surface, as well the mattress itself for these same conditions.

Next, it is important to replace any mattress covers with visible signs of damage or stains. Also, mattresses with damage or visible stains should be removed immediately.

For maintenance, it is important to clean and disinfect undamaged bed mattress covers. This can be done according to the bed cover cleaning guidelines given by the manufacturer.

Finally, FDA suggests that healthcare facilities develop an inspection plan that can be applied for all medical bed mattresses and covers. It is important to check the expected life of the bed mattress, as well as the cover.

 

Source: Infection Control Today. Vol. 22. No. 1. January 2018.

The complete guide to hospital cleaning

hospital-cleaning

For a long time, cleaning has been all about the look; fresh smell and the absence of stains or dirt were the criteria to determine that a place is clean. Today, these criteria are still generally accepted in environments such as offices and classrooms.

It’s common knowledge, however, that microbes (bacteria or viruses) invisible to the human eye represent a risk for spreading infections. Take the example of the influenza virus: it can survive for up to 48 hours on a hard surface!

Without cleaning and disinfection procedures or a quality check procedure, microbes can survive in hospital environments.

Three key elements have to be considered in order to perform an infective risk analysis:

  • Is the patient carrying a disease agent? Disease agents are classified based on their spreading capacity and their virulence. The choice of a disinfectant will be based on this.
  • Do the functional activities of a sector represent a risk of spreading infections from the environment? E.g.: food service, offices, Intensive Care, etc.
  • The intensity of contact is related to the traffic and the surfaces that are more likely to be touched. E.g.: bathroom fittings.

Infective Risk Analysis

Cleaning in hospitals allows reducing risks of infection among patients. This is not the only factor, of course: good personal hygiene habits such as washing hands and the use of protective equipment such as overalls, gloves, masks, or protective glasses are also important elements.

For this reason, interventions must be well coordinated in order to have a good surface maintenance plan. The manager of hygiene and cleanliness should therefore take into account:

  • The type of place associated to the level of risk
  • The tasks to perform
  • The required cleaning frequency

If well applied, a detailed estimate allows validating the cleaning performance.

The global approach is going to be determined by type of place:

  • Regular eradication (e.g.: operating rooms)
  • Keeping environmental effects as light as possible (e.g.: low infection risk such as individual office spaces)
  • Balance of microorganisms. This approach is based on the competition between good and bad microbes. The presence of good microbes guarantees less space for bad microbes to grow (e.g.: living environments)
  • Green cleaning. Approach that uses less toxic products
  • Review and improve arrangements and/or surfaces (during conception or renovation)

The Cleaning Staff: key to success

The hygiene and cleanliness staff represents a key element in the fight against infections in hospital environments. Often little valued, their role in the global strategy of surface cleaning is extremely important.

The hygiene that comes from the work of the cleaning staff requires a high performance level. In order to reach that, the executing staff and the managers need to master all the different elements representing this profession.

Cleaning products and equipment are undeniably crucial in order to ensure performance during the environment asepsis of any establishment. Therefore, it is important to associate the day-to-day actions of the cleaning staff with a range of products and equipment that favor the quality of their performance.

Since several years, partly due to the devotion and the involvement of many members in the healthcare system, we take into consideration new factors:

  • Provincial training
  • Establishment of an AEP hygiene and cleanliness in healthcare environments of 630 hours now offered by many school boards
  • Provincial day of hygiene and cleanliness
  • Etc.

Having said this, the hygiene and cleanliness staff deserves our deepest gratitude. Thank you so much!

Work Organization

How can proper work organization contribute to the cleanliness of a hospital? How to be in the right place with the right equipment? Here are the questions we are going to answer in this post of the Cleaning in Hospitals series.

Evaluation of production needs

First, we need to assess the needs in hygiene and cleanliness. In order to do this, a standard evaluation is preferable but it needs to be adjusted based on the type of place, units, and traffic.

It is during the evaluation of needs that the hygiene and cleanliness estimate (see Cleaning in Hospitals part 2) is going to be determined. All daily, weekly, monthly, and annual tasks have to be considered.

Usually, the results are presented by production yields (square meters/hour) or FTE (Full Time Equivalent).

How to reduce time waste

How to measure productivity in a context where an important aspect of the task is moving? Actually, hygiene and cleanliness departments are almost always in the basement, whereas most of their work happens on the floors!

We increase productivity by reducing traveling.

It is for this reason that the cleaning cart needs to be as complete as possible and the water sources or janitor’s closets well stocked with supplies (i.e.: paper products or waste bags), equipment, and sanitary products.

Moreover, it is important to remember that a good entrance carpet can greatly reduce dirt.

Have a successful day!

Here are a few hints on how to have a successful day:

  • Establish a sequence of actions to perform in a day/week/month
  • Define a sequential order of rooms
  • Integrate linked and periodical tasks (monthly)
  • Make sure to have time gaps to focus on periodical tasks (dusting of high surfaces, polishing, etc.)
  • Minimize traveling
  • Work by space and not by task
  • Distribute tasks equitably
  • One look is worth a thousand words: choose a colorful plan together with some graphics instead of a list of tasks on a word file!

Want to know more?

Look this free webinar from my collegue Remi:

Need help?

Don’t hesitate to call 514.645.2753 or subscribe to one of our training seminars. I really hope that you liked this post!

Ebola, how does it spread?

top-2014-ebola-virus

The Ebola Virus

Ebola is a virus. There is currently no vaccine or treatment. It causes severe disease, causing serious symptoms including vomiting and bleeding. The mortality rate can reach 90%. Primary infection comes from a contact with an infected animal and it can spread quickly.

How can you get infected by Ebola?

By coming into contact with following bodily fluids such as blood, urine, feces and vomit. Of by one of the following means: by contact with a dead victim, by ingestion of infected animal meat or by having sexual intercourse with an infected person.

What are the symptoms of Ebola?

The symptoms of Ebola are fever, headache, nausea and fatigue. It may also include bleeding from nose, mouth or eyes, coughing, diarrhea or vomiting with the possible presence of blood.

How to prevent ebola transmission

The risk of transmission of the Ebola virus in Canada is very low. However, certain precautions must be taken. The Public Health Agency of Canada also recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

There is a risk only if you have been in contact with sick people. In such case, if you experience symptoms, call 8-1-1 (Quebec) and inform them of your discomfort. You will be directed to the healthcare center care that can help you.

What to do to prevent the spread of Ebola virus

The Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux in collaboration with the Institut nationale de santé publique du Québec has issued recommendations in case of an outbreak. It is important that each healthcare center that can receive a potentially infectious patient put in place appropriate precautionary measures. Thus, it is important to have the required equipment for this type of care.

Ebola, How to disinfect surfaces

ebola-disinfect-surface-ali-flex-rtu

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is slowly becoming an epidemic that is spreading beyond Africa. Although the risk of transmission is relatively low, it is the largest ever recorded outbreak of Ebola. WHO, CDC and other NGOs have declared a state of emergency and fight tirelessly to limit the outbreak.

Importance of hygiene when it comes to Ebola

The debate today is polarized on the ethical use of experimental drugs. However, few media state of the propagation modes and the importance of hygiene against this virus. Although transmission is being achieved mainly by direct contact between two people, contaminated objects and surfaces can present a risk that is hard to assessed. Thus, the CDC and WHO suggest that objects in direct contact with the patient must be decontaminated properly and that medical or objects contaminated with body fluids must be incinerated.

Stabilized Sodium Hypochlorite

All well and good, but what product can be used to disinfect appropriately? Ebola Virus Outbreak Guidelines written by members of the Ministry of Public Health of Gabon suggest the use of sodium hypochlorite.

We do not always know the microbial threats we face, but if in doubt use a disinfectant caliber is required.

Cleaning in Hospitals (part 4)

Work_Organization

How can proper work organization contribute to the cleanliness of a hospital? How to be in the right place with the right equipment? Here are the questions we are going to answer in this post of the Cleaning in Hospitals series.

Evaluation of production needs

First, we need to assess the needs in hygiene and cleanliness. In order to do this, a standard evaluation is preferable but it needs to be adjusted based on the type of place, units, and traffic.

It is during the evaluation of needs that the hygiene and cleanliness estimate (see Cleaning in Hospitals part 2) is going to be determined. All daily, weekly, monthly, and annual tasks have to be considered.

Usually, the results are presented by production yields (square meters/hour) or FTE (Full Time Equivalent).

How to reduce time waste

How to measure productivity in a context where an important aspect of the task is moving? Actually, hygiene and cleanliness departments are almost always in the basement, whereas most of their work happens on the floors!

We increase productivity by reducing traveling.

It is for this reason that the cleaning cart needs to be as complete as possible and the water sources or janitor’s closets well stocked with supplies (i.e.: paper products or waste bags), equipment, and sanitary products.
Moreover, it is important to remember that a good entrance carpet can greatly reduce dirt.

Have a successful day!

Here are a few hints on how to have a successful day:

  • Establish a sequence of actions to perform in a day/week/month
  • Define a sequential order of rooms
  • Integrate linked and periodical tasks (monthly)
  • Make sure to have time gaps to focus on periodical tasks (dusting of high surfaces, polishing, etc.)
  • Minimize traveling
  • Work by space and not by task
  • Distribute tasks equitably
  • One look is worth a thousand words: choose a colorful plan together with some graphics instead of a list of tasks on a word file!

This is all for this series of posts on Cleaning in Hospitals! Don’t forget that we’re always here to help, don’t hesitate to book an appointment by calling 514.645.2753 or subscribe to one of our training seminars. I really hope that you liked this serie of posts!

 

References:
Hygiène et salubrité en milieux de soins – Démarche pour le développement de stratégies d’entretien des surfaces, MSSS, 2010, 52 pages.

Cleaning in Hospitals (part 3)

cleaning-hospital-staff

The hygiene and cleanliness staff represents a key element in the fight against infections in hospital environments. Often little valued, their role in the global strategy of surface cleaning is extremely important.

The hygiene that comes from the work of the cleaning staff requires a high performance level. In order to reach that, the executing staff and the managers need to master all the different elements representing this profession.

Cleaning products and equipment are undeniably crucial in order to ensure performance during the environment asepsis of any establishment. Therefore, it is important to associate the day-to-day actions of the cleaning staff with a range of products and equipment that favor the quality of their performance.

Since several years, partly due to the devotion and the involvement of many members in the healthcare system, we take into consideration new factors:

  • Provincial training
  • Establishment of an AEP hygiene and cleanliness in healthcare environments of 630 hours now offered by many school boards
  • Provincial day of hygiene and cleanliness
  • Etc.

Having said this, the hygiene and cleanliness staff deserves our deepest gratitude. Thank you so much!

The next post is going to talk more in detail about one aspect of their profession: work organization.

Don’t miss any posts about this series, subscribe to this blog!

References:

Hygiène et salubrité en milieux de soins – Démarche pour le développement de stratégies d’entretien des surfaces, MSSS, 2010, 52 pages.

Cleaning in Hospitals (part 2)

cleaning-hospitals

Cleaning in hospitals allows reducing risks of infection among patients. This is not the only factor, of course: good personal hygiene habits such as washing hands and the use of protective equipment such as overalls, gloves, masks, or protective glasses are also important elements.

For this reason, interventions must be well coordinated in order to have a good surface maintenance plan. The manager of hygiene and cleanliness should therefore take into account:

  • The type of place associated to the level of risk
  • The tasks to perform
  • The required cleaning frequency

If well applied, a detailed estimate allows validating the cleaning performance.

 

The global approach is going to be determined by type of place:

  • Regular eradication (e.g.: operating rooms)
  • Keeping environmental effects as light as possible (e.g.: low infection risk such as individual office spaces)
  • Balance of microorganisms. This approach is based on the competition between good and bad microbes. The presence of good microbes guarantees less space for bad microbes to grow (e.g.: living environments)
  • Green cleaning. Approach that uses less toxic products
  • Review and improve arrangements and/or surfaces (during conception or renovation)

The next post of this series is going to talk about another key factor: the hygiene and cleanliness staff.

References:

Le nettoyage dans les hôpitaux du 21e siècle by Dr. Stephanie J. Dancer, Medical, Microbiology, Hairmyres Hospital, UK appeared on the magazine Le Nettoyage professionnel, July/August 2012.

Hygiène et salubrité en milieux de soins – Démarche pour le développement de stratégies d’entretien des surfaces, MSSS, 2010, 52 pages.

Cleaning in Hospitals (part 1)

hospital-cleaning

For a long time, cleaning has been all about the look; fresh smell and the absence of stains or dirt were the criteria to determine that a place is clean. Today, these criteria are still generally accepted in environments such as offices and classrooms.

It’s common knowledge, however, that microbes (bacteria or viruses) invisible to the human eye represent a risk for spreading infections. Take the example of the influenza virus: it can survive for up to 48 hours on a hard surface!

Without cleaning and disinfection procedures or a quality check procedure, microbes can survive in hospital environments.

Three key elements have to be considered in order to perform an infective risk analysis:

  • Is the patient carrying a disease agent? Disease agents are classified based on their spreading capacity and their virulence. The choice of a disinfectant will be based on this.
  • Do the functional activities of a sector represent a risk of spreading infections from the environment? E.g.: food service, offices, Intensive Care, etc.
  • The intensity of contact is related to the traffic and the surfaces that are more likely to be touched. E.g.: bathroom fittings.

Have you already performed an infective risk analysis? The next post is going to explain how cleaning allows reducing risks of infection among patients.

Don’t miss any posts about this series, subscribe to this blog! You just need to write your e-mail address, it’s that easy!

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References:

Le nettoyage dans les hôpitaux du 21e siècle by Dr. Stephanie J. Dancer, Medical, Microbiology, Hairmyres Hospital, UK appeared on the magazine Le Nettoyage professionnel, July/August 2012.

Hygiène et salubrité en milieux de soins – Démarche pour le développement de stratégies d’entretien des surfaces, MSSS, 2010, 52 pages.