With Superbugs, What You Don't See CAN Hurt You
When it comes to hospitals and medical facilities, what you don’t see CAN hurt you. The list of frightening acronyms and ‘superbugs’ seems to keep growing with HAIs (Hospital Acuired Infections), MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), CRE (carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae), C. difficile, Ebola and more. According to the CDC, in 2011, almost half a million cases of infections were caused by C. difficile alone. Of these, 29,000 cases were fatal, with patients deceased within 30 days of the initial diagnosis. A need for medical care elicits feelings of vulnerability and risk, both real and imagined. Unkempt medical facilities can both actually make people sicker and escalate their fear or increase their perception of mismanagement. With patients’ health and perception in the balance, hospital cleaning and medical cleaning are once again an area of some concern for patients and their families.
What The Research Tells Us About Superbugs & Medical Cleaning
What does the most current research tell us? According to a 2015 study on Hospital cleaning, current research affords us a fairly good picture of the before and after results of particular cleaning agents and approaches. This is good news. It means that we know how the products we use work most effectively. It is from data like this that cleaning products get their instructions. These instructions can include things like dwell times and orders of steps-- all designed to provide the most favorable outcomes and protect patients’ health by reducing disease-causing microbes.
The Good News & The Bad News of Healthcare Cleaning Services
What’s the bad news? The bad news is that far too few medical cleaning companies do what it takes to assure their employees are fully trained in both the specifics of healthcare cleaning and the bevy of cleaning products they use to keep your health care facilities clean and safe. Even the best disinfectants, surfactants, fungicides, virucides and bactericides are rendered less effective when used improperly. A multitude of studies have also shown that high touch surfaces are most likely to harbor higher rates of bacteria and viruses and therefore require a heightened amount of relative attention hen cleaning. Medical cleaning companies that offer inadequate training to their teams are simply not equipping them with the tools to help protect patient health or the reputation of your facility.
Is Your Commercial Cleaning Company Or Janitorial Services Putting You At Risk or Are They A True Partner?
Just like health care providers can be good, bad and everything in between, there is a range of medical cleaning companies and hospital cleaning services. Most commercial janitorial companies will vie for your business but only a handful can actually deliver the level of service and professionalism that effective medical cleaning requires. So when evaluating your current healthcare cleaning company or considering a prospective medical janitorial company, ask yourself?
Do they really understand the requirements of medical cleaning?
Are they aware of the regulations and compliance issues connected to healthcare cleaning?
Do they know how their work contributes to HCAHPS scores?
Do they understand the science behind cleaning?
Do they have a detailed and observable training system in place for both general cleaning, medical cleaning specialties and specific use of their products and equipment?
Do they insist on safety compliance training for OSHA, HIPPA, & Bloodborne Pathogens?
Are they industry certified?
Do they have a green cleaning program to employ biodegradable, low allergenic, and non-toxic products where possible?
Ask Your Medical Cleaning Company the Right Questions
A first critical component of hiring the right medical cleaning company is to ask the right questions and insist on seeing evidence of claims and not just a sales pitch. Those medical cleaning companies that have invested time into understanding your business and structuring the training and systems to deliver effective medical cleaning will be excited to share this with you. Any health care cleaning company deserving of your business should be able to backup their claims of great medical cleaning services with observable systems and processes, solid references and documented training. While it can be a labor intensive process in the short run, in the long run you can create a partnership between you and your medical cleaning company that delivers the effective services and value you need.
 Cleaning hospital room surfaces to prevent health care–associated infections: a technical brief, Jennifer Han et al., Annals of Internal Medicine, doi: 10.7326/M15-1192, published online 11 August 2015, abstract.