As you know, there are hundreds of high-touch areas within a healthcare facility. Without proper and regular cleaning and disinfection, nurse's stations, computer desks, doorknobs, handrails, bedrails, toilets, faucets and other highly touched areas can present increased health risks and contribute to the spread of infectious diseases.
Luckily, there are easy ways to reduce the number of germs in these high-touch areas and help to control the spread of pathogens across your facility. Find out which pathogens are most common and how you can combat them with these essential tips from ServiceMaster Clean®.
Commonly Found Pathogens in High Traffic Areas
In any healthcare facility, especially those treating ill patients, highly prevalent bacteria and viruses can easily spread from person to person and cause healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). Among the many infectious pathogens, you may find several multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs) in high-traffic healthcare areas. When an organism is multidrug-resistant, it's immune to the effects of multiple antibiotic treatments, making it more challenging to eliminate.
Commonly found HAIs and MDROs include but are not limited to:
- Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
- Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE)
- Multidrug-resistant (MDR) gram-negative organisms
- Clostridium difficile (C. difficile or C. diff)
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV/AIDS)
These pathogens can be transmitted by direct patient contact or indirect contact by touching contaminated equipment or surfaces in your facility. Once present, these pathogens require the proper environmental cleaning procedures and practices (including disinfection) to help prevent the spread of viruses and infection.
Common Places You'll Find Pathogens
Pathogens can be isolated to single units or patient rooms or exist facility-wide. Since each treatment area has different high-touch areas, each location in your facility will have a different risk of transmitting pathogens. However, you're most likely to find pathogens like Norovirus and C. difficile in patient rooms, where the surfaces of handrails, bedrails, toilets and faucets are present.
Other pathogens like Staphylococcus aureus can contaminate high-touch areas around the entire facility. Mobile phones, for instance, are the most frequently contaminated device across a healthcare environment. Since most employees use their smartphones while at work, the risk of contamination is amplified. Keep in mind that some bacteria can live on dry touchscreen devices for months, so it's crucial to take precautions when bringing outside items into the facility.
How to Clean High Traffic Areas to Avoid Spreading Pathogens
Infection control measures should be one of your top priorities. Provide disinfectant wipes to encourage your staff to clean as they go and help control the accumulation of pathogens throughout the day. The only way to truly minimize the risk of pathogen transmission, however, is to combine daily cleanings of high-touch surfaces with a complete and thorough cleaning routine customized for your unique facility.
Your healthcare facility should follow all industry standards of sanitization, including:
- Hand-hygiene protocols.
- Consistent, routine cleaning.
- Proper disinfection, sanitization and sterilization with quality products approved for use in healthcare settings.
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
- Ongoing quality review and assessment.
- Continual evaluations of current cleaning regimen to amend processes, as needed.
If an outbreak occurs, the frequency of cleaning should increase to reduce prolonged transmission. To control transmission effectively, it's critical to follow cleaning and disinfection regimens that completely meet industry standards. With the right knowledge, tools, communication, training and aggressive cleaning regimens, your healthcare facility can minimize the risk of spreading pathogens from high-touch surfaces.
If you need help creating a comprehensive environmental cleaning plan for your unique healthcare facility, call the environmental service professionals at ServiceMaster Clean. We've used our industry experience to create a Patient-Centered Cleaning Programthat addresses the specific needs of today's healthcare facilities, including infection control measures, patient environment improvement, risk reduction and more. Contact us today to find out more about our healthcare cleaning services.