The Covid-19 pandemic has reinforced why it is so important to practice good hand hygiene and ensure surfaces, particularly those that are classed as ‘high-touch’ or ‘high-risk’, are cleaned and disinfected frequently. But are we really aware of the surfaces we touch and the risk of transmission if these are not cleaned and disinfected correctly?
Top 10 touch points
Common touch points within healthcare environments include:
- Bed frames & rails
- IV poles
- Blood pressure cuffs
- Door handles & push plates
- Light switches
- Handles, buttons & dials
- Taps & sinks
- Toilet flushes
Other frequent touch points found often found outside of healthcare environments include:
- Keypads & touch screens
- Banisters & hand rails
Now more than ever we should be acutely aware of the environment around us and the risk of transmission if the right precautions are not taken, with many of us still wary of communal spaces and keen to see measures in place to keep everyone safe. Research has found that 81% of people felt that visible regular cleaning of high-traffic surfaces would make them feel more comfortable visiting shared areas amid the coronavirus outbreak.1 This is something we can all relate to given the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Surfaces with anti-microbial coatings
We have long known about the ability of materials like copper and silver in inactivating microbes through direct contact, with one particular study evaluating the effectiveness of copper and silver-based nanofilms within a healthcare environment. Whilst the study did show both to have anti-microbial efficacy, this varied across pathogen groups, with silver-coated surfaces showing poorer performance on gram positive than gram negative bacteria for example.2
Other anti-microbial coatings are also not supported by strong clinical data, with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claiming that they have found no evidence to suggest that antimicrobial coatings offer any enhanced protection from the spread of bacteria and germs and that proper cleaning and handwashing are the best ways to prevent infection.3
This is a view shared by many Infection Prevention and Control professionals, with the two primary concerns being a.) the potential for these coatings contributing to anti-microbial resistance over time and b.) the potential to inadvertently influence or encourage poor cleaning practice.
The same is true of disinfectants which claim to have a ‘residual activity’, where the surface remains active for a period of time after it has been disinfected. Often these products are tested on easier-to-eradicate gram positive bacteria like MRSA, as opposed to more difficult-to-eradicate non-enveloped viruses like Adenovirus for example. As a result, these claims can be misleading and once again contribute to an increased risk of transmission.
Combating high-touch points
Proper surface cleaning & disinfection is widely acknowledged to be the most effective ways to stop the spread of infection, and various studies have found that implementing educational training and interventions can dramatically improve both the quality and frequency of surface cleaning & disinfection.4,5
Minimising contact with reusable equipment and high touch surfaces is therefore critical; so much so that the World Health Organization published guidance during the Covid-19 pandemic recommending that wherever possible, equipment should be single-use and disposable.6
In instances when this is not feasible, effective surface cleaning and disinfection practices help to minimise the risk of cross-infection.
As an established brand within healthcare sector for over 35 years, Azo™ encompasses a full product portfolio of surface cleaning wipes which can be tailored for general purpose to specialist cleaning and disinfecting; including medical areas. The Azo™ range is extensively used in hospitals, nursing homes, pharmacies, laboratories, dental and GP surgeries to help reduce contamination and the risk of infection.Discover the full Azo™ Range here
- Sansoni, B. (2020) Where, When and How: Snapshots of Consumers’ Use of Wipes. World of Wipes Conference, August 2020, Minneapolis, USA
- Codiţă, I. et al. (2010) Antimicrobial activity of copper and silver nanofilms on nosocomial bacterial species. Roum Arch Microbiol Immunol. Oct-Dec 2010;69(4):204-12.
- Guidelines for Environmental Infection Control in Health-Care Facilities. Recommendations of CDC and the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC) 2003/52(RR10);1-42
- Reese, S. et al. (2019) Implementation of Cleaning and Evaluation Process for Mobile Patient Equipment Using Adenosine Triphosphate. Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology. 40(7):798-800.
- Zimmerman, P. et al. (2018) Instilling a culture of cleaning: Effectiveness of decontamination practices on non-disposable sphygmomanometer cuffs. Journal of Infection Prevention. 19(6):294-299.
- World Health Organisation (2020) Infection prevention and control during health care when COVID-19 is suspected - WHO/2019-nCoV/IPC/2020.3