How to Prevent Cross-Contamination in Hospitals

How to Prevent Cross-Contamination in Hospitals

What are Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAI)?

Hospitals move at a very fast pace. There are lots of people coming in and out, as well as equipment that needs to be moved throughout the facility. Healthcare-associated infections (HAI) can easily spread by touching pieces of contaminated equipment and by not washing hands after contact with bodily fluids. If a surface is left uncleaned, it can easily become a source of cross-contamination.

Healthcare-associated infections are infections that patients can get while they’re receiving healthcare for another condition. They can be caused by bacteria, fungi, viruses, or other pathogens. They can happen in any healthcare facility, including hospitals, surgical centers, and long-term care facilities. HAI can affect patients in any type of setting where they receive care, and they can also appear after discharge. It is estimated that each year, hundreds of millions of patients around the world catch HAI.

The Dangers of Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAI)

HAI can result in additional costs for health systems, high costs for patients and their family, increased resistance of microorganisms to antimicrobials, prolonged hospital stays, long-term disability, and unnecessary deaths. Environmental Services (EVS) teams and Infection Prevention Control (IPC) teams need to ensure that their infection control methods are efficient and effective at killing harmful pathogens that cause HAIs.

Disinfecting Equipment to Prevent Cross-Contamination

Equipment needs to be ready to be used at any time. It must be disinfected so that it can move through already disinfected spaces. If contaminated equipment is moved through an already disinfected area, that area needs to be disinfected again. Any piece of equipment that touches a patient needs to be cleaned and disinfected, so single-use disposable devices should be used when possible to eliminate the spread of germs among patients and medical personnel.

How to Prevent Cross-Contamination Between People

If someone brings a pathogen or germ into a hospital, they can contaminate any surface they touch. This is why it’s important to keep sick patients separate from people who are visiting patients. Having two separate waiting rooms can help. Proper hand hygiene can also help reduce the spread of germs. Place containers of hand sanitizers and antibacterial gels in each room and along the corridors to encourage hand hygiene for patients and visitors. Hospital employees need to properly and frequently wash their hands as well as wear protective gloves when necessary.

How to Prepare Hospital Rooms to Prevent Cross-Contamination

Making sure that rooms are ready for people is critical. Any area that is occupied by people needs to be cleaned and disinfected. This includes hallways, restrooms, waiting rooms, patient rooms, hospital kitchens and play areas. It’s critical to clean any surface in the hospital that is touched.

For manual cleaning, it’s also critical to maintain a clear cleaning schedule that is visible to all staff and able to be monitored by your IP management team. Your entire IP team should understand roles and responsibilities when it comes to disinfection. The thoroughness of cleaning can never be 100% consistent given human error, so there’s a chance that hospital rooms won’t be cleaned effectively every time. Beyond that, the cleaning agents used are not able to kill certain resistant organisms. Research published in the American Journal of Infection Control shows that as many as 50% of surfaces remain contaminated with pathogens, including MRSA, despite regular manual cleaning efforts. Disinfection in addition to traditional cleaning methods is the best way to help ensure a cleaner, safer environment.

How UVC Disinfection Can Help Prevent Hospital Cross-Contamination

What is UVC Disinfection?

Ultraviolet-C (UVC) disinfection is one type of no-touch technology shown to be a successful adjunct to manual cleaning. According to the FDA, UVC radiation is a known disinfectant for air and nonporous surfaces. UVC technology deploys UV light to penetrate the cell walls of spores, bacteria and viruses and renders these harmful pathogens unable to reproduce and spread after treatment with UVC energy. When bundled with manual cleaning and disinfection protocols, the technology significantly reduces patient exposure to HAIs.

How to Choose the Best UVC System

Hospitals need to choose technologies that can be measured and are able to provide the data needed to show proof of UVC dosing and compliance. UVC devices should be easily accessible to high-touch surface areas. Those surfaces need the most direct light to effectively and efficiently rid them of harmful, HAI-causing pathogens.

UVC radiation can only inactivate a virus if the virus is directly exposed to the radiation. If a surface is under a shadow, it won’t be disinfected. Some UVC systems don’t administer the proper dose and miss areas that may contain dangerous pathogens. The right UVC system should measure the delivered UVC dose and have a “pause and reposition” feature that helps operators ensure targeted areas of the room have received optimal dosage to kill harmful pathogens. This technology helps staff quickly disinfect crucial areas and return rooms to service.

Additionally, measuring the delivered UVC does, tracking treatment data, monitoring effectiveness, and sharing with necessary stakeholders is an important function of UVC light technology. Using patented remote UVC sensors and pausing and repositioning the UVC system, helps address variables such as room shape and other obstacles that might prevent areas from being disinfected. The best UVC solutions work to reach all targeted areas within a treated room, including those in shadowed or hard-to-reach places.

Contact us to learn more about UVC disinfection.

 1 Health Care-Associated Infections |

 2 The burden of health care-associated infection worldwide 

 3 A model for choosing an automated ultraviolet-C disinfection system and building a case for the C-suite: Two case reports – American Journal of Infection Control