Slide Show: Evidence Gaps for Best Methods of Cleaning Hospital Rooms

August 12, 2015

Tray tables, bed rails, light switches, and toilets: All are common vectors for swapping germs between patients and healthcare workers. While a new systematic overview in this week’s Annals of Internal Medicine points to several promising cleaning tactics of these “high-touch surfaces,” there’s a lack of evidence as to which is the most effective at reducing healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). Few studies measured patient outcomes or focused on newer technologies, and even less compared cleaning tactics against one another — important gaps to fill as the U.S. healthcare system works to reduce the 75,000 HAI-related deaths that occur annually. The systematic review was led by Craig A. Umscheid, MD, MSCE, an assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and senior associate director at the ECRI Institute-Penn Medicine Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)-funded Evidence-Based Practice Center (EPC), Jennifer Han, MD, MSCE, an assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology, and Brian Leas, MS, MA, and Nancy Sullivan, research analysts in the ECRI-Penn AHRQ EPC, and revealed major gaps in existing evidence for the best practices for cleaning hospital room surfaces to prevent HAIs, including Clostridium difficile, MRSA and VRE.