Keeping hospitals clean is a crucial patient safety issue. The importance of the hospital environment in patient care has only recently been recognized widely in infection prevention and control (IPC). In order to create a movement for change, a group of international infection control experts teamed up with Interclean, the largest cleaning trade-show in the world to create the Healthcare Cleaning Forum. This paper by Peters, et al. (2018) is the result of this conference, which featured leaders in healthcare environmental science from across Europe.
Although the available literature is limited, there is now enough evidence to demonstrate that maintaining the hygiene of the hospital environment helps prevent infections. Still, good interventional studies are rare, the quality of products and methods available is heterogeneous, and environmental hygiene personnel is often relatively untrained, unmotivated, under-paid, and under-appreciated by other actors in the hospital. Coupled with understaffed environmental hygiene service departments, this creates lasting issues in regards to patient and healthcare worker safety.
The Healthcare Cleaning Forum was designed as a platform for healthcare experts, cleaning experts, hospital managers and industry to meet productively. The conference aimed to summarize the state-of-the-art knowledge in the field, create awareness and dialogue, challenge dogma and begin to shape a research agenda for developing the field of hospital hygiene and environmental control. Hospital environmental hygiene is far more complex than other types of cleaning; further evidence-based research in the field is needed. It involves the integration of current and new technologies with human elements that must work together synergistically to achieve optimal results. The education, training and career development, behavior, and work organization of environmental hygiene personnel are at the core of the proposals for the creation of a global initiative. Ultimately, what is needed is a reevaluation of how hospitals view environmental hygiene: not just as an area from which to cut costs, but one that can add value. Hospitals and key stakeholders must work together to change how we maintain the hospital environment in order to better protect patients.
Reference: Peters A, Otter J, et al. Keeping hospitals clean and safe without breaking the bank; summary of the Healthcare Cleaning Forum 2018. Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control. 2018;7:132