a doctor and nurse walking on the the hospital's hallway

How to Keep Hospitals Safe and Sanitised

Controlling infection is a matter of survival in hospitals. Although stains and dust can be very unsightly, they do not pose infection or health risks to patients. Contaminants that cannot be seen by the naked eye, on the other hand, are more dangerous primarily because they go undetected. Pathogens and microbes in the air can be passed on easily to unsuspecting patients and visitors.

Here are three things that can be done to prevent the spread of infection inside hospitals and other medical facilities.

Clean surfaces and medical equipment

Ordinary hospital equipment may appear clean, but they can be crawling with pathogens, bacteria and other hazardous microorganisms. Equipment like pulse oximeters, thermometers and sphygmomanometers are possible infection contaminants. Keeping them clean and sanitised can minimise the spread of infection.

In the past, medical facilities have placed greater importance on cleaning floors rather than the surfaces of equipment.  It is good that hospital staff and personnel are now being trained on best practices and guidelines when it comes to sanitation. Everyone is now more conscious about cleaning and sanitising equipment that are shared between patients or are used in other wards and departments.

Apart from the hospital-grade cleaning equipment, disposable wipes are a great tool for cleaning. Wipes can be used to remove stains and dirt on drip stands, commodes and bedpan holders. These wipes are sanitised and often contain alcohol to kill germs and bacteria. It is considered good practice to wipe down equipment in nurse stations and hospital wards before they are used on the next patient, as well.

Reinforce hand hygiene

The most important risk in a hospital setting is the interactions in the medical facility, i.e. patient, visitor and healthcare worker. The hand hygiene of hospital or health workers is crucial. When the staff’s hands are clean, and they come in contact with clean surfaces, the risk of transmission of microorganisms and bacteria is rather low.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that one in every 31 patients contract a healthcare-associated infection while in the hospital. According to the CDC, this amounts to approximately 720,000 infections per year.

Besides reinforcing hand hygiene in all medical staff and hospital personnel, it is also important to use other forms of protection. Disposable gloves are not ideal for extended cleaning tasks, so cleaning crew is advised to use industrial-quality gloves. Disposable plastic aprons can be useful in cleaning and preventing contamination. Personnel is also required to use protection for the mouth, nose and eyes.

Monitor overall cleanliness

Empty nurses station in a hospital.

The Revised Guidance on Contracting for Cleaning Hospitals categorises areas for cleaning as very high risk, high risk and low risk. The very high-risk areas include the emergency room area, operating areas and intensive care units.

High-risk places are the general wards, public toilets and sterile supply department. Low-risk sites are the records and administrative areas. Each section is divided into importance, and that includes fixtures, equipment and surfaces. Their maintenance and frequency of cleaning depend on the category.

Besides cleaning surfaces and common areas, a hospital must also purify the air that circulates around the facility. In the UK, air purifying ozone treatment is seen as a helpful tool in maintaining good air quality and curbing air pollution inside health facilities.

The cleanliness in a hospital or any other medical facility is important to keep patients and healthcare workers safe and free of infection and contamination. Following approved guidelines and standard cleaning policies can help maintain hospital cleanliness.