It’s a topic many of us don’t like to talk about, but with increased awareness of how easily pathogen transmission can occur, we’re shining a light on a concerning but often neglected subject, excreta management.1 One study published just before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic concluded that there was an “urgent need” to enhance healthcare workers’ knowledge and practices to better control the spread of harmful pathogens.2

 

Studies have since found that over 53% of patients who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 had a viable pathogen in their stool, making the handling of human excreta a high-risk area, with ‘faecal shedding’ identified as a significant contributor to transmission.3,4

 

What is faecal shedding?

Shedding is a term you may have heard used in reference to the infectiousness of diseases like Covid-19. For SARS-CoV-2 for example, it occurs when the virus is released from an infected host into the environment. There is a growing body of evidence highlighting the risks of widespread environmental dissemination of pathogens through faeces. Pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2 are also able to survive when aerosolised and on some surfaces for up to 9 days.5 This means we not only need to focus on how we manage excreta disposal but also how we effectively clean and disinfect the surrounding environment.

 

What can we do about it?

It is well established that contaminated surfaces and equipment are an established route of transmission for high-risk nosocomial pathogens.6 Minimising the amount of reusable equipment that could potentially harbor these pathogens and ensuring high standards of environmental cleaning & disinfection are two of the most effective ways to stop the spread of infection. Reusable bedpans for example, which would become heavily contaminated with potentially harmful pathogens, pose a number of risks to both staff and patients, regardless of how they are reprocessed.7

In order to minimise this risk, the World Health Organization guidance published during the Covid-19 pandemic recommended that wherever possible, equipment should be single-use and disposable.(8)

For equipment where it is not viable to have a disposable option, such as a commode chair, effective cleaning and disinfection is of paramount importance. Studies have shown that improved environmental hygiene can reduce the number of people acquiring harmful microorganisms.9

 

How do we make sure we get it right?

As with all facets of healthcare, getting it right involves a combination of the appropriate product and the appropriate practice. Multiple human factors can affect healthcare outcomes, however one thing that is undeniably proven to improve them is ‘education’.

Various studies have found that implementing educational training can dramatically improve both the quality and frequency of surface cleaning & disinfection for example, delivering tangible results and improving healthcare outcomes.10,11

 

With that in mind, it is important to take advantage of the resources available.  Our experienced team are on hand to provide advice and training for you and your teams to help ensure the risks from excreta management and environmental contamination are minimised.

 

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