Stopping Healthcare-Associated Infections

Stethoscope01.28.2015

Written by: Selective Micro Technologies

How often do you disinfect the noncritical surfaces in your medical facility? How often should you? The CDC classifies noncritical surfaces as surfaces “…that come in contact with intact skin but not mucous membranes.” Further, these surfaces are broken down into two groups: patient-care items and environmental surfaces.

Stopping Healthcare-Associated Infections: Disinfecting Noncritical Surfaces with Frequency

Because these surfaces only come into contact with intact skin, some argue against the need of a bactericide to disinfect them. However, according to the CDC’s “Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare facilities, 2008” the frequency of disinfecting noncritical, medical surfaces can affect the number of healthcare-associated infections experienced in your facility.

Patient Care Items

Patient-care items are medical devices such as bedpans, blood pressure cuffs, crutches and stethoscopes. These devices can become infected with pathogens which can then be cross-transmitted to other patients. For instance, if a patient with an infectious disease coughs into his arm and then has his blood pressure taken, the cuff used may be contaminated. If it is not disinfected between uses, those pathogens can then be passed to the next patient. Due to this potential, it is recommended that these types of surfaces be disinfected after every single use.

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Environmental Surfaces

The second grouping of noncritical surfaces is environmental surfaces. These surfaces include bed rails, bedside tables and floors. These can contribute to cross contamination through hand contact by healthcare personnel. Healthcare personnel are also open to infection when in or around environments containing infectious patients. When disinfecting these environmental surfaces, it is important to frequently decontaminate high traffic areas, such as bed rails and door handles.

Overlooked Areas

One surface that can often be overlooked, however, is disinfection of facility floors. Bacteria in the air can often settle on the floors of health care facilities, and thus through foot traffic, wheels, and other methods of transportation be easily be carried into the vicinity of other patients. A study regarding floor decontamination discovered that disinfectants were much more effective in reducing bacteria (94%-99.9%) than soap and water (80%).

In addition, the study highlighted that bacterial counts in soap and water used in floor decontamination increased from 10 colony-forming units per milliliter to 34,000 CFU/mL while water used in conjunction with a disinfectant showed no change from 20 CFU/mL. Research suggests use of a strong oxidizer capable of broad-spectrum hospital disinfection for critical and noncritical surfaces alike, further that which is registered with EPA and presents superior material compatibility. Pure chlorine dioxide carries with it this capability.  

How are you keeping your healthcare facility contamination free? Need help? Contact us at Selective Micro Technologies and we will help you today!