The global spread of antimicrobial resistance is the theme for World Health Day on April 7 part of a worldwide campaign to safeguard the effectiveness of antibiotics and other drugs. In support of the international campaign launched by the World Health Organization (WHO), xpedx® has recommended some infection control guidelines for environmental services personnel.
"Environmental services directors, and their employees, represent an important line of defense in safeguarding the hospital environment to ensure facilities are kept clean reducing the spread of bacteria and the increased chance of infection, potentially decreasing the need for antibiotics," says Chris Rowe, xpedxs director of sales for facility solutions.
The following tips should be top of mind among environmental services personnel when cleaning healthcare facilities:
1. Provide ongoing staff training. Conduct regular training sessions for environmental services employees on proper infection control and best practices for preventing cross-contamination when cleaning patient rooms and high-risk areas, such as doorknobs, bedrails and light switches.
2. Evaluate cleaning products and processes. Review product labels and contact manufacturers and/or distributors for any additional product information or training. Work with manufacturers to identify product needs and assist in quality audits to ensure the proper processes are in place and that the products are used effectively. Also, infection prevention personnel can be a valuable resource throughout the product evaluation process.
3. Conduct time audits. For comprehensive surface cleaning, environmental service employees need enough time to thoroughly address all surfaces throughout a patient room. By working with infection prevention to conduct time studies, environmental services managers can determine exactly how much time is needed to thoroughly clean and disinfect all appropriate surface areas.
4. Measure cleaning performance on an ongoing basis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers a checklist of areas to routinely check and monitor. These include bed rails, tray tables, light switches and other high-touch areas throughout the patient room. To ensure these areas are cleaned effectively, handheld devices such as adenosine triphosphate (ATP) meters can measure soil levels. Black light markers and UV lights can also measure cleaning performance.
5. Recognize cleaning personnel. As acknowledged by the updated CDC guidelines, cleaning personnel are an integral part of any infection prevention program, so they should be recognized as such. Implementing an ongoing recognition program will encourage employees to focus on their job performance.
"Cleaning personnel should be trained on how to effectively clean and disinfect surfaces, and why their work is so important," Rowe adds. "By including training on microbiology, hospital cleaning professionals can understand important aspects of the chemistry behind the disinfection process. Also, reinforcing training with ongoing recognition programs should translate into a sustained focus on this critical element of job performance throughout the year."