By their very nature, hospitals are places with high concentrations of people who are unwell, many of whom are sick with infections they have picked up in the wider community. Consequently, bacteria, viruses and fungi are constantly being brought into hospitals by patients, the challenge for healthcare workers is how to stop these multiplying and spreading.
Research and investigation have consistently demonstrated that healthcare environments can be a reservoir for organisms with the potential for infecting patients2. In American hospitals alone, the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that HAIs account for an estimated 1.7 million infections and 99,000 associated deaths each year3.
There are many places in a hospital that, without proper cleaning and hygiene measures, can result in infection outbreak. In this blog we will look at some of the most common ‘unhygienic’ practices and places in healthcare facilities and show you solutions to ensure that patients and healthcare professionals are not unnecessarily at risk of infection.
Toileting patients who are confined to a bed is often a difficult process and one that can be quite unhygienic. Bedpans and urine bottles designed to aid patients with limited mobility are often made from metal or plastic and have to be washed by hand or by a bedpan washer, before reuse by a different patient. An audit found that up to 33% of reusable items failed due to visible faecal soiling after being processed in a bedpan washer8. This can pose a huge infection risk for patients who then must use the potentially contaminated receptacles.
At Vernacare we pioneered the solution; pulp toileting products that can be disposed of after use, ensuring that every patient receives a clean container every time and eliminating the risk of cross infection. Find out more about our disposable medical pulp containers here.
Sluice/Dirty Utility Rooms
The disposal of human waste is a very important consideration for hospitals. When a nurse has toileted a patient in bed, or dealt with a patient vomiting, the waste products and pulp containers need to be safely disposed of. This process will nearly always take place in a sluice/dirty utility room - a closed room found in medical facilities, used for the hygienic disposal of human waste products. The nature of what goes on in a sluice room means that they are often unhygienic and pose a high infection risk. It is therefore crucial that sluice/dirty utility rooms are properly equipped to prevent the spread of infection.
Hospital macerators are considered the most hygienic way to dispose of human waste and Vernacare macerators are particularly effective as they use our patented SmartFlow TM Technology, combined with contactless operation. SmartFlowTM works by pumping water into a closed macerator drum to fully saturate the bedpan and break it down into a fine consistency, before flushing it down to drain.
Our latest hospital macerator, the Compact+, is the most intelligent machine on the market, designed with a primary purpose of limiting the spread of infection. Its infection control features include:
- Completely hands-free operation, using a foot sensor to control the lid and start the maceration cycle consequently eliminating contact with this machine.
- Inflatable lid seal which prevents aerolisation of potentially harmful pathogens.
- User friendly lid with a wider opening and deeper drum to minimise the risk of spillage and splashback.
- Modern aesthetic design with large smooth surfaces and minimal grooves making the machine easy to clean.
These features all ensure that infection risks are contained resulting in a more hygienic and safe sluice room environment for healthcare professionals to operate in. Find out more here.
Studies indicate that up to 60% of hospital rooms are not cleaned properly and are contaminated by residual infectious pathogens4. It is unsurprising therefore that of every 100 hospitalised patients, up to 10 will acquire at least on healthcare-associated infection (HCAI) as a result of receiving care5. When patients are at their most vulnerable in hospital, contracting a HCAI can put them at significant risk.
Improperly disinfected hospital rooms are often the result of inadequate environmental cleaning. Traditional environmental cleaning techniques often require the use of a cloth, bowl of water and disinfectant that needs to be mixed in the correct concentrations. Aside from being time consuming, this process can also often facilitate the spread of infection.
- Disinfectant not mixed in the right measures may fail to kill the pathogens on the surface. If the cloth then continues to be used on other surfaces, this can spread infection from surface to surface6.
- A study found that 62.2% of ‘clean’ plastic wash basins were contaminated with pathogens including organisms such as ‘MRSA’ and ‘VRE’. Using these unclean wash basins to clean other surface can encourage the spread of those pathogens9.
Our Azo wipes offer a time saving solution that eliminate these risks. Azo wipes are pre-dosed to avoid issues with disinfectant being incorrectly mixed and one wipe is used per surface to avoid transferring any harmful pathogens. Find out more here.
For immobile patients, a body wash in bed is sometimes the only bathing option. Washing can help to reduce the potential for infection by removing oil, dirt and micro-organisms from the skin. However traditional bed bathing practice using soap and water can be counterproductive as the process poses many infection risks. Various studies have been published highlighting the link between traditional soap and water bathing and Health Care Associated Infections.
- Bath basins have been shown to harbour bacteria. A study examining 92 visibly clean basins from 3 ICUs found that 98% of all basins grew bacteria which can be a source of pathogenic spread when bathing patients7.
- Water systems used to fill the basins can be a source of P. aeruginosa transmission in healthcare settings7.
Our Oasis waterless bathing range can provide the solution. The pre-packaged maceratable wipes are impregnated with skin cleansers to gently bathe and hydrate the skin with no risk of cross contamination from reusable basins or water systems. Find out more information here.
At Vernacare we continuously work to create quality products which are proven to help improve the lives of patients, residents and healthcare professionals by reducing the risk of healthcare-associated infections. To find out more about our full range of healthcare solutions click here.
- Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee, 2003 Guidelines for Environmental Infection Control in Health-Care Facilities
- Bryce E, Lamsdale A, Forrester L et al. Bedpan washer-disinfectors: An in-use evaluation of cleaning and disinfection. American Journal of Infection Control. Oct 2011; 39: 566-70