The Importance of Surface Sanitation in Healthcare

An October 2018 report from The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) warned that each year “close to 2 million healthcare-associated infections (HAI) occur in the US resulting in nearly 100,000 deaths.” That is an astounding statistic and one that should concern healthcare workers and patients alike. Hospitals and clinics across the country have put infection control plans in place to slow or stop the spread of HAIs. Everyone working in a hospital, including cleaning and maintenance staff, plays a critical role in the overall battle against HAIs.

The NCBI also cites a study listing the most common sources of infectious agents contributing to HAIs. The top three sources of HAIs are: “the individual patient, medical equipment or devices, [and] the hospital environment.” The cleanliness and overall condition of the hospital environment is within the control of janitorial and maintenance crews. For surfaces that get contaminated like floors, doors, handles, tables, toilets, etc… the cleanliness of these items can literally be the difference between life and death for people most at risk for HAIs. When those surfaces are clean and disinfected, patients heal faster and stay healthier.

The CDC’s Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities recommends to “[d]isinfect (or clean) environmental surfaces on a regular basis”. Furthermore, the guideline advises to disinfect “noncritical surfaces [surfaces that do not penetrate human tissue] with an EPA-registered hospital disinfectant.” Since surface cleanliness and sanitization are often the direct responsibility of the cleaning staff, cleaners must be provided with the proper chemicals and tools to stay compliant with their hospital’s infection control plan. Using Goodway’s BioSpray®-10 portable sanitizer system is an easy way for cleaners to begin to fulfill the CDC’s recommendations and implement HAI prevention protocols.

The BioSpray-10 system uses an EPA-registered sanitizer and disinfectant, BioSpray® -D2. BioSpray-10 is cordless and uses innovative CO2 delivery technology to safely and effectively apply disinfectant onto surfaces. Its portability, patented atomizing spray technology and twenty-foot-long sprayer hose means cleaning crews can disinfect large surfaces quickly with better, more even results compared to manual sprayers or hand wiping.

Disinfecting efforts are often focused on objects closest to the patient like surgical instruments, bedpans, toilets, and medical equipment. But hospitals are large facilities and bacteria and viruses can be on literally any surface and in any room. Because of the large volume of people passing though including those who are sick, children, employees, and visitors, the hospital cafeteria is one area of particular importance for infection control.

In fact, infection control and food handling is important enough to get an entire chapter in the International Society for Infections Diseases’ Guide to Infection Control in the Hospital. The guide notes that in food handling and serving areas infections and viruses spread through “[m]ultiple routes of transmission, including …indirect contact via contaminated environmental surfaces.” These surfaces include food prep tables, the salad bar, dining tables, food trays and really anywhere in the cafeteria a patient, employee, or visitor sneezes, coughs, or even bleeds and contaminates common surfaces.

In 2017, 252 employees at the Hospital of Bellvitage in Spain were reported to have contracted norovirus from contaminated snacks in the hospital lunch room. The news article warned that “Norovirus is typically spread through contaminated food and water [or] touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus…”. Had the touchable surfaces in the cafeteria been properly sanitized, it is likely the outbreak could have been prevented.

The same BioSpray-10 sanitizing system used in the patient and surgery rooms can be employed in the kitchen and cafeteria. The chemical sanitizer/disinfectant used in the BioSpray-10 system, BioSpray-D2 is a rapid kill surface spray approved for “food contact surfaces without a rinse”. Since BioSpray-D2 does not need to be wiped off, significant time can be saved during the disinfecting process.

Preventing the spread of infections is a serious issue in the healthcare industry, but one in which everyone can play a role, especially janitorial and facility management staff. As CDC and NCBI guidelines explain, surface cleaning and disinfecting is an effective way to eliminate viruses and germs. Armed with a lightweight, portable sanitation system like the BioSpray-10, hospitals can fight back against the spread of HCI and literally save lives.

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