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The Ultimate Guide to Beating Hospital-Acquired Infections

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Sep 21, 2017

With the onset of antibacterial products and modern scientific advancements, it seems a safe assumption that we are winning the battle against infection. In actuality, the fight continues against new, more resistant disease-causing microorganisms.


A primary area for concern in health care facilities is hospital acquired infections (HAI)—which rank among the top 10 most frequent causes of death in the United States. In response to the growing number of HAIs, as well as to the number of immune-deficient patients, health care organizations have an increased awareness and interest in cleanliness, sanitation, and disinfection techniques. Across the U.S., health care facilities are implementing programs that help maintain a cleaner, healthier environment that can stop HIAs before they occur.

A significant part of any sanitation program is worker awareness—which starts with understanding the most common ways microorganisms move from one person to the next. One of the best ways to reduce cross-contamination is frequently washing your hands. In fact, hand hygiene is recognized by infection prevention and control experts as the single most important factor in decreasing the spread of infection within any facility, especially healthcare. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) identify the following hand hygiene “touch points”:

  • Before touching a patient
  • Before cleaning and aseptic procedures
  • After bodily fluid exposure
  • After touching a patient
  • After touching a patient’s surroundings

If no soap, water and towels are available, hand sanitizers limit the spread of microorganisms.

In addition to hand washing, you can outsmart germs in your facility by keeping critical touch point areas clean and sanitary. Critical touch point areas include:

  • Floors and hallways—Organisms survive up to 5 months on floors.
  • Chair arms—More than 90% are rarely cleaned, and millions of micro-organisms live on chair arms.
  • Door knobs—Viruses such has H1N1 survive from 24 to 48 hours on these surfaces.
  • Bed rails— Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) survives at least 7 days on bedrails.
  • Sinks and faucets—75% of all sinks contain extremely high levels of microorganisms.
  • Toilet seats—Norovirus survives on toilet seats for 12 hours.

You can keep these critical touch points clean using chemicals such as:

  • Sterilizer—To destroy or eliminate all forms of microbial life.
  • Limited disinfectant—To use against a specific major group of microorganisms.
  • General disinfectant—To use against a broad spectrum of microorganisms.
  • Hospital disinfectant—To use throughout a health care facility.
  • Common surface disinfectants including:
    • Synthetic phenols—For killing a wide range of organisms; often used in operating rooms.
    • Quats—Highly versatile and cost effective, used to kill a wide range of microorganisms; often used in schools, institutions, supermarkets and hospital settings.
    • Hypochlorite/Bleach—For use as a disinfectant or sanitizer, but not for cleaning; never mix bleach with another chemical.
    • Hydrogen Peroxide—Versatile, sustainable cleaner for glass, hard surfaces, carpets and restrooms.
    • Iodine—Due to its staining properties and acidic qualities, use is restricted to specialized areas, such as surgical settings.
    • Alcohol—For disinfecting smaller surface areas.
  • Sanitizers—For reducing, but not necessarily eliminating, microorganisms from the environment; normally used in food service, food preparation, food processing areas and hand care products.

Remember these important statistics:

  • Infections are one of the primary reasons patients are admitted to hospitals.
  • Proper disinfection prevents 36% of HAIs.
  • Proper disinfection reduces VRE by 50%.
  • The CDC recommends implementing a critical touch point cleaning program in every health care facility.

Work with Betco to design a comprehensive program that helps you create a healthier, cleaner environment for your patients, visitors and staff—one that outsmarts germs and stops HAIs before they begin

Top image via Wikipedia