The Importance of Hygiene in Healthcare: A Guide to Best PracticesSurbhi Dixit
Healthcare-associated infections (HAI) are a global issue affecting millions of patients every year. Environmental contamination in healthcare settings plays a role in the transmission of these infections.
To combat this issue, environmental cleaning must be an indispensable component of a comprehensive infection prevention and control program in hospitals. This blog will provide ten practical steps for maintaining a hygienic environment in hospitals and reducing the risk of HAIs.
10 Steps You Can Follow To Maintain a Hygienic Environment in Hospitals
1. Establish Policies and Procedures
According to the National Guidelines for Clean Hospitals, a healthcare organization must devote adequate resources to sanitation services and have an individual assigned responsibility for overseeing the sanitation services of the hospital.
- The organization must also have written procedures for cleaning and disinfection, with defined responsibility for specific items and areas and clearly defined lines of accountability.
- The procedures must include standards and frequency for cleaning and disinfection, as well as provisions for additional cleaning capacity during exigencies.
- The policies and procedures must be continually reviewed and updated.
By establishing policies and procedures, healthcare organizations can ensure that cleaning practices are consistent, effective, and aligned to maintain a hygienic environment.
2. Prioritizing Cleanliness
Prioritizing cleaning to maintain a hygienic environment is crucial in reducing the risk of hospital-acquired infections. Adequate resources, including trained staff and written procedures, should be dedicated to the sanitation services of the hospital.
The global community has recognized the importance of adequate cleaning in healthcare facilities. World Health Assembly adopted a resolution on WASH in healthcare facilities, and the United Nations Secretary-General issued a call to prioritize WASH services.
3. Physical Cleaning
Studies have shown that healthcare-associated pathogens can contaminate all surroundings, and this includes porous surfaces and hard, non-porous surfaces.
Contaminated surfaces can be a source of direct transmission of pathogens as a result of patient contact with the environment or indirect transmission through the hands and gloves of healthcare workers.
Contextual factors, such as management tools, organizational structure, and culture, can also affect the implementation and effectiveness of cleaning and disinfecting processes.
4. Use of Disinfectants
Disinfectants are essential to kill harmful microorganisms and prevent their spread. The recommended procedure for disinfection of environmental surfaces in hospitals is to clean all surfaces, including beds and other objects, regularly when the surface is visibly soiled or after a patient discharges.
There are several strategies available to monitor compliance and assess the hygiene of the environment, including visual assessment, Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) bioluminescence, and fluorescent markers.
However, no single strategy is considered the gold standard, and visual assessment may not be reliable, so plan accordingly.
5. Develop A Cleaning Schedule
Environmental cleaning and disinfection are crucial to maintaining a hygienic environment in hospitals. The frequency of cleaning and the level of disinfection depends on several factors, including
- the potential for direct patient contact,
- the type of surface and orientation,
- the degree and frequency of hand contact,
- the potential for contamination with pathogens,
- the nature of the activity, and
- the vulnerability of persons present in the area.
More susceptible patients require greater attention. Ultimately, effective cleaning and disinfection are fundamental to reducing the incidence of hospital-acquired infections.
6. Invest in Quality Cleaning Supplies
Ideal cleaning supplies should be nontoxic, easy to use, have an acceptable odor, be soluble in water, affordable, and environmentally friendly. Disinfectants should have a wide antimicrobial range, be fast-acting, and remain wet long enough to meet recommended contact times.
Facilities should develop and maintain a master list of approved cleaning products, minimize the number of products in use, store products safely, and prepare solutions according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
7. Promote Good Hygiene Practices Among Staff
The World Health Organization has implemented several initiatives to increase awareness related to hand hygiene, with alcohol-based hand rub being the most-favored means of preventing HCAIs.
The following strategies should be implemented to improve compliance with hygiene practices:
- Regular in-service training
- Displaying educational material
- Regular audits
- Peer oversight
- Better access to consumables and washbasins
These efforts can help promote good hygiene practices among staff and maintain a hygienic environment in hospitals.
8. Educate Patients and Family Members on Proper Hygiene
It is important to provide clear and easy-to-understand information on how to maintain personal hygiene, including oral care, bathing, and elimination. Patients and their families should also be encouraged to ask questions and raise concerns about their hygiene needs.
Involving patients and families in the care process can help promote a sense of ownership and responsibility for their hygiene, which can ultimately lead to better outcomes.
9. Implement Infection Control Measures
Personal protective equipment, such as masks, gloves, and gowns, can help prevent the spread of infectious agents from patients to healthcare workers and vice versa. Isolation procedures can also be effective in limiting the spread of infections by separating patients with infectious diseases from other patients.
Proper disposal of sharp tools, such as needles and syringes, is essential to prevent accidental needlestick injuries and potential infection transmission.
10. Monitor and Evaluate Hygiene Practices
Regular monitoring and evaluation of hygiene practices are crucial to identifying areas for improvement and maintaining a safe and clean healthcare environment.
Obtaining feedback from staff and patients can provide valuable insight into the effectiveness of current hygiene practices and highlight areas that need improvement.
Monitoring infection rates are also an important aspect of evaluating hygiene practices. By tracking infection rates, hospitals can identify patterns and determine whether current hygiene practices are effective in preventing the spread of infection.
Maintaining a hygienic environment in hospitals and clinics is crucial for the safety and well-being of patients, staff, and visitors. Implement the steps discussed above to see the best results.
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With RARE, hospitals and clinics can benefit from a safe and hygienic environment that enhances patient care and safety. Contact us today to learn more about our solutions.