Today, environmental services is developing into a science that no healthcare facility can afford not to integrate into its infection-prevention program. The payoff is real, in both lives and dollars.
Soft surfaces as a source of infection
A number of industry experts weighed in on soft surfaces, one area of environmental services that is garnering increased attention recently. Soft surfaces can be a source of cross-transmission and is why disinfection of soft surfaces should be an important part of an effective environmental-services and infection-prevention program.
Lisa Grimes, CEO, PurThread Technologies, Durham, NC, pointed out that, while hand hygiene is an important component of keeping surfaces free of pathogens, it simply is not enough. “Soft surfaces, especially privacy curtains, are touched frequently by healthcare workers. Although fundamental to infection prevention, hand hygiene is insufficient to the challenge facing many healthcare facilities. It is still too easy for freshly washed hands to be contaminated before touching the patient.”
Considering the advantages, why might there be hesitation to include soft-surface decontamination in environmental services and infection-prevention programs? “Most regulatory guidelines and recommendations are outdated,” stated Mueller, Noble Biomaterials, “so, it is sometimes hard to convince people to incorporate soft surfaces, particularly when incremental cost is involved. However, when you compare that cost to the loss of human life and the increasing financial impact of healthcare-associated infections on the bottom line, it is minimal. In terms of quality of care, a cleaner environment will always be a safer environment.”