A new study focused on finding what the best strategies hospitals may apply when cleaning patients’ rooms shows that there isn’t enough information on the issue in the scientific literature.
The study was a response to nationwide concerns over superbug infections that had been reported in dozens of health care facilities.
Authors involved in the recent research found that very few studies discussed the best strategies to disinfect hard-surfaces in a patient’s room, and even fewer underscored the importance of cleaning surfaces. These surfaces which include light switches, counters, call buttons, tray tables, and IV poles are often overlooked by cleaning personnel.
“We basically found that there are studies available to guide actions, but there are much fewer than you might expect for such an important issue,”
noted Dr. Craig Umscheid of the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine and lead author of the study.
Official data show that one in 25 hospitalizations is associated with a care-related infection that could have been prevented if proper cleaning was done. Although most of these infections are due to improper disinfection of medical tools, hard-surface bacteria left behind in patient rooms may also contribute to the phenomenon.
In only one year, more than 720,000 care-related infections occur in the U.S. Of those cases, 75,000 patients actually die, researchers said.
Hand-washing is a popular preventive measure a health care provider should take before handling a patient, but there is more to be done. For instance, a doctor may have clean hands when examining a patient but harmful germs may also hide on the hard-surfaces in the examination room.
Some analysts think that only 50 percent of these surfaces are actually cleaned in a hospital room.
During their analysis, researchers dug into data gathered by more than 80 research papers over the course of 16 years. The team found that only five studies showed what the best strategies for cleaning hard-surfaces in a hospital were.
Moreover, fewer than 30 studies had revealed a link between care-related infections and improper cleaning of hard-surfaces. The latest study also found that most of the research papers only focused on a single cleaning product or method rather than performing a comparative approach.
Some of the revised studies found that bleach-based cleaning products reduced the incidence of C.difficile infections in hospitals. But chlorine dioxide-based disinfectants showed no similar effects.
Researchers also found that hospitals only assume how effective bacteria killer a cleaning product may be from the producer’s recommendations. Moreover, hospitals are more interested in a disinfectant not staining a clean surface rather than in it being an effective disinfectant.
Image Source: The NY Times