Researchers Study Approaches to Enhance Environmental Cleaning

Environmental contamination with nosocomial pathogens on the near-patient surfaces and equipment has been associated with its indirect transmission. Thorough, regularly scheduled cleaning and disinfection of the environment is essential to break this transmission. Environmental hygiene should be a priority for all healthcare facilities; however, despite regular cleaning following patient discharge with a multidrug-resistant organism, the environment may still harbor these organisms.

Researchers from Singapore General Hospital formed a multidisciplinary team to look into different ways to improve environment hygiene. The project was carried out in a 36-bed medical ward from June to December 2010.The project examined the enhancement of environmental cleaning by process re-design, specifically the use of two-bucket methods of cleaning the environment with microfiber cloths that were well soaked with Mikro Quart or phenolic instead of spraying the disinfectant on the cloths. A three-day educational workshop was held, tailored to the language and cultural needs of the staff. The topics covered high-touch surfaces, environmental hygiene and audit methods. Effectiveness of the intervention was evaluated using a fluorescent marker, Glo-Germ powder, at random points in the ward. A checklist was used to monitor the trend of progress. The immediate feedback on the audit findings and action plan was developed for compliance failure to the staff and competency was monitored by direct observation.

The environmental audit showed an improvement from a median of 64 percent to 95 percent following the intervention (P< .001). However, no significant improvement in the nosocomial MRSA infection rate was found before and after intervention. Yuen, et al. conclude that using disposable cloths reduces time in rinsing and prevents contamination.

The research was presented at the International Conference on Prevention & Infection Control (ICPIC) held in Geneva, Switzerland, June 29-Jul 2, 2011.  

Reference: TK Yuen, LM Lin, LE Choon, GY Yan, CC Sun, CY Chuo Ying and KY Hong. New approaches to enhance environmental cleaning in an acute tertiary hospital. Presentation at International Conference on Prevention & Infection Control (ICPIC). BMC Proceedings 2011, 5(Suppl 6):P302doi:10.1186/1753-6561-5-S6-P302