Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Study: Hospitals use unapproved chemicals

June 8, 2012

SAN ANTONIO, TX — Research performed by students and faculty at Xavier University in Cincinnati reveals that current practices for cleaning hospital beds involve the use of chemicals not approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use on mattresses and that most hospitals do not follow recommendations for appropriate use of these chemicals, according to a press release.

The research was presented June 4 at the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas, the release stated.

According to the release, other findings included:

• 84 percent of hospitals use quaternary ammonia compounds to clean hospital beds, which have been tested on hard surfaces only, and do not have EPA approval for use of soft surfaces such as hospital mattresses
• 23 percent of these hospitals cleaned the mattress surface prior to using the disinfectant, as is recommended by both the bed and chemical manufacturers
• 6 percent of these hospitals rinsed off the chemical disinfectant after disinfection, as recommended by the bed manufacturers, possibly exposing patients to residual disinfectant.

"Hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) are killing hundreds of people in the U.S. every day, and using unapproved chemicals, failing to clean beds prior to disinfection and failing to rinse off these dangerous chemicals is just unacceptable. Previous research by Xavier University has demonstrated that hospitals are not getting beds clean, and this research may give a clue as to why," said Dr. Edmond Hooker, associate professor in health services administration.

Click here to read the complete release.