The Importance of Environmental Hygiene

Patient room

WASHINGTON — Numerous studies have demonstrated that contaminated environmental surfaces in health care facilities can contribute to the transmission of infectious pathogens and that the cleaning and disinfection of these high-touch surfaces has been suboptimal, according to a press release from Infection Control Today.

The link between environmental contamination and patient acquisition has been more convincingly demonstrated, the release stated.

Epidemiologic studies have shown that patients admitted to rooms previously occupied by individuals infected or colonized with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), or Acinetobacter baumanii are at significant risk of acquiring these organisms from previously contaminated environmental sites.

"There is no doubt in my mind that contamination of the environment (surfaces in patient care areas and mobile medical equipment) play a major role in the transmission of potential pathogens," says Michael Phillips, the hospital epidemiologist at New York University Langone Medical Center.

"There are well-designed studies which show patients who occupy the bed of a patient previously infected with a resistant pathogen are at greater risk of acquiring that pathogen. The key to convincing health care workers of the importance of the environment is data — posting unit or service specific rates of C. difficile infections, for example," Phillips added.

Find out more about communicating the importance of environmental hygiene to health care workers.

Learn about the unique challenges of cleaning health care facilities and how to effectively clean environmental surfaces to avoid health care-acquired infections. 



Posted On July 15, 2011
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