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Disinfection Practices that Break the Chain of Infection

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  • Disinfection is a crucial component of hospital maintenance. Due to the daily flow of staff, visitors and patients that walk through the door, it’s impossible to stop pathogens from coming into a hospital. However, proper disinfection practices can help prevent pathogens from contributing to patient harm.

Creating a Disinfection Program: Where to Start

  • Disinfection isn’t a quick fix, but rather, is a facility-wide effort involving multiple steps and processes in order to be effective. It can seem overwhelming, but there are a variety of solutions available that can make the disinfection process more efficient and effective.

    1. Disinfection starts with having materials that can withstand harsh chemicals. Available in a variety of modern patterns, 3M™ DI-NOC™ Architectural Finishes can be applied to cabinets, doors, and bedside tables and are engineered with durability to withstand the rigors of cleaning and disinfection. Using architectural finishes is a cost-effective way to refurbish patient rooms and refresh outdated fixtures
    2. Once the proper surface finishes are in place, the next step is to ensure that these surfaces remain clean. Utilizing an effective dusting solution – such as 3M™ Easy Trap Sweep and Dust Sheets – is a critical first step to ensure all dust, dirt and debris is collected and removed before cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting.
    3. In addition to the surfaces in your space, proper chemical usage is key. There is no chemical that can do everything, so it is important to have a roster of products that can tackle all challenges, from bathroom disinfection to patient room cleaning. Utilizing a chemical management system like the 3M™ Chemical Management System will ensure accurate chemical dilution and reduce potential product waste and safety concerns.

Mistakes to Avoid

  • Efforts to disinfect can be undermined by a variety of actions and habits. Hand washing, for example, is key to maintaining a germ-free barrier when going in and out of rooms, but it is easy for cleaning staff to forget.

    • Cross contamination is a mistake that occurs frequently when cleaning multiple patient rooms with the same mop head. Because fluids and pathogens can rest on floors, facilities should use disposable mop pads like the 3M™ Easy Clean Disposable Floor Mop Pad for each room to prevent the spread of infection.
    • Misusing products is another common practice that hinders the effectiveness of a disinfection program. Applying the wrong chemical, or not following its use instructions, will make it ineffective against pathogens. It’s tempting to expedite the dwell time in areas with heavy foot traffic, so utilizing solutions with reduced dwell times like the 3M™ MBS™ Disinfectant Cleaner will be effective in a shorter window of time. Ultimately, chemical dwell times vary, and its critical to read and understand the directions to ensure the chemical is properly used.

Engaging all the Stakeholders

  • There’s often an assumption among nurses, environmental services, facility managers and cleaning staff that the proper disinfection process is being carried out, even without knowing exactly who is doing what.

    For example, some staff see everything within a two-foot radius of the patient, such as call buttons and IVs, as the nurses’ responsibility to clean. Unfortunately, the radius approach isn’t always clear, and critical areas of disinfection can be left untreated due to the misunderstanding of each stakeholder’s roles and responsibilities.

    Facility Managers and Environmental Service leaders must ensure all staff using chemical disinfectants know how to mix and disperse the products, and that the process is being adhered to. Whether medical staff or facility management, disinfection is not just one group’s concern. It is the responsibility of many different stakeholders, making it critical each group is involved in the disinfection program and educated on their role.

    Disinfection is not just a chemical, but a system of vigilant practices and engaged team members. By utilizing effective disinfection products and putting a facility-wide approach in place, hospitals can break the chain of infection and create a space for treatment that protects patients.

    To build an effective disinfection program, contact a 3M sales representative for more information.

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