Hospital Surface Hygiene: The Opportunity for Continuous Antimicrobial Protection
One of the main challenges hospitals face is finding an efficient way to prevent healthcare-associated infections (HAI) in an environment that is continuously contaminated by the constant flow of people in and out. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that hospital rooms be routinely disinfected and in addition to other measures. Studies show that up to 20% of healthcare-acquired pathogens, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), Clostridium difficile (C. diff), Acinetobacter, and norovirus, come from outside sources other than the patient themselves. Despite rigorous cleaning efforts, there is still a risk for the next patient who stays in the contaminated room to contract the infection. While Infection Prevention’s primary focus has been to enhance the disinfection of high touch surfaces, such as bed rails, newer studies have found that portable and shared equipment, such as wheelchairs and hospital floors, are also some of the main contributors of transmission. One study found that only 48% of environmental surfaces were cleaned at baseline, with an improvement to only 77% after interventions were made to the cleaning methods. In addition to the current disinfecting methods being inadequate, hospitals also face difficulties in scheduling the complex daily and terminal cleaning process in all areas of the hospital with time pressures and coordinating patient flow. In looking for an alternative solution, Infection Prevention recently began using continuous antimicrobial products and technologies, which keep hospitals clean by continuously destroying the microbes that thrive on hospital surfaces. In June 2019, The American Journal of Infection Control published an article highlighting the association between using long-lasting or persistent antimicrobials or microbiostatics to disinfect hospitals and a reduction in HAI rates.