What’s lurking in the hospital environment? The importance of cleaning and disinfection in infection prevention and control

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I was asked to speak to a group of link nurses at Southampton Hospital earlier in the week, and thought I’d share my slides, here.

I am passionate about the importance of surface contamination in transmission: I still think it’s really under-rated. I am pretty sure that most healthcare workers would have no idea that your chances of acquiring C. difficile infection (and others) is influenced by who used the room or bed space before you. And who would believe that VRE could survive on a dry surface for 4 years? Or that touching a surface is as important as touching the patient in terms of acquiring contamination on your hands?

Furthermore, I am pretty sure that these issues have not yet been picked up by the public. If I was a patient, I would be demanding assurance that my room or bedspace had been cleaned adequately before my admission. And would I be satisfied by a perfunctory visual inspection? NO!

So, we need to do a better job of environmental cleaning and disinfection – and we have the tools to do it. We can improve existing approaches by training and eduction, and through performance managing the process using fluorescent markers or ATP swabs. And there’s a whole host of new technology that we can and should embrace: new disinfectants, antimicrobial surfaces, automated technologies, products designed with cleanability in mind.

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