Keeping hospitals clean and safe without breaking the bank

A paper has just been published in ARIC as the first academic output of the Healthcare Cleaning Forum. I blogged earlier this year to relate the inaugural Healthcare Cleaning forum, and this paper expands on the key themes: establishing environmental hygiene as a patient safety initiative, providing an overview of the importance of environmental hygiene in healthcare, exploring the human factors driving the standards of environmental hygiene along with the need for effective education, the possibilities and challenges of automation, and the cost and value of environmental hygiene.

One of the key aims of the forum is to be a champion for environmental hygiene professionals. There’s a famous story of when president JFK visited NASA and asked a janitor who was mopping the floor what they were doing. The answer was simple and profound: “I’m helping to put a man on the moon.” If you asked somebody working in environmental hygiene in your hospital what they were doing, would the response be: “I’m helping to maximise patient safety and prevent healthcare-associated infection.” Probably not. We need to champion the cause of environmental hygiene professionals, who lack professional status, are often not paid enough, and often have limited options for career progression.

Is environmental a treasured investment priority in hospitals?

Related to this is our perception of the cost and value of environmental hygiene in hospitals. Is our level of investment appropriate given the risks associated with inadequate environmental hygiene in hospitals? Would we really find highly valued cleaning and disinfection materials in the metaphorical safe of a hospital manager (see the cartoon above)? Probably not! We need work towards better evidence to understand the value of environmental hygiene in hospitals in the context of other investment priorities.

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Nine decades of antibiotics: a story with two endings…

I did a talk today in Portugal covering the nine decades since Fleming discovered the effects of Penicillium sp. in 1928. I thought it would be interesting to have two endings to the talk: an upbeat one, and a doomsday one.

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Do single rooms prevent HCAI? This suggest suggests YES for norovirus, but no for C. difficile infection and E. coli BSI

There are pros and cons of increasing the proportion of single rooms. One of the commonly-cited pros is a reduction in HCAI. A recent UK study provides some evidence that C. difficlie infection, and MSSA /  E. coli BSIs are not reduced by a move to a hospital with more single rooms, but that norovirus control is more effective when you have more single rooms.

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Counting the cost of HCAI-related litigation

I heard an eye-opening talk at IPS about the cost of HCAI-related litigation to the NHS. This is something that gets talked about a lot in economic analyses (“these figures do not include the cost of litigation”), but it is difficult to find accurate figures on the scale of the expense. Data from NHS Resolution* suggests that HCAI-related litigation costs the NHS in the region of £60m per annum, which accounts for around 4% of all harm settlements from NHS Resolution each year.

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Do single rooms reduce HCAI?

An interesting review article examines the relationship between three related variables: the proportion of single rooms, the size of the patient room and patient proximity, and the availability of antiseptic hand rub, with various HCAI indicators. The bottom line is that both a move towards a higher proportion of single rooms and larger patient rooms are associated with reduced HCAI, and making hand gels more available improves compliance with their use (unsurprisingly).

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“HCAI”

Airquotes

I read a Controversies blog today, reflecting on a recent editorial suggesting that, because of frequent over-diagnosis, we should use quote marks every time we write “CAUTI” – and even use air quotes every time we say it! But why stop at CAUTI? Should we be talking about “CLABSI”, “CDI”, “SSI” and, well, any “HCAI” really?

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