Even in today’s age of modern healthcare, healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) remain a real threat to providers and patients. The CDC provides some alarming statistics on the rate of HAIs in America:
- 2 million Americans get an infection during their stay (1 in 20 patients)
- 100,000 deaths each year are caused by infections in hospitals
- Intensive Care Unit staff only wash hands ¼ of the time
Not only are they potentially deadly, they cost hospitals time and money. HAIs add nearly $10 billion in costs to the healthcare industry each year, and cost the average hospital an upwards of $15,000 in expenses.
So how do we fight HAIs, something that seems natural to places like hospitals?
We must understand how HAIs are spread, and how to fight against them.
Germs in the Workplace
Proper HAI reduction starts with understanding germs and how they interact in the workplace. Germs are most prevalent in places such as restrooms, telephones, light switches and door handles. They are spread through methods such as sneezing and coughing, touching contaminated surfaces, and blood and other body fluids. Infections in the hospital are prevalent because of the amount of germs that reside in areas that appear clean, but are in fact unsanitary.
We measure the amount of germs in an area by using a device called the ATP meter. The meter can detect how sanitary or unsanitary a surface is by measuring Adenosine Tri-Phosphate (ATP) which is a kind of biological pollution left behind by living cells. With an ATP meter, we can effective measure the amount of germs an area has, in order to sanitize it.
Proper HAI-Reduction Guidelines
Choosing the right cleaning company for your practice is extremely important, as they are the bedrock to your practice’s overall sanitation scheme. Coverall provides a list of handy tips on ways a cleaning company can provide effective infection control habits at your workplace:
- Use microfiber towels, as they are more effective in trapping germs.
- Color code sanitation products to avoid cross contamination. For example, use one color microfiber towel for cleaning the toilet, and another for the counter.
- Use a no-dip microfiber flat mopping system to avoid spreading dirty water and germs from floor to floor.
- Use hospital-grade disinfectants. Coverall recommends this CDC article on infection control.
- Use HEPA filtration vacuums. These vacuums improve air quality better than traditional vacuums.
By practicing proper sanitation and hygiene habits, you can significantly reduce the rate of HAIs at your practice.