As a medical facility, the last thing that you want is your patients to come to you with one physical ailment only to contract an infection on your watch. But with so many sick patients coming in and out of your medical facility, it’s challenging to pinpoint areas of risk for cross-contamination. Everyone knows that doorknobs harbor a lot of bacteria because of frequent human contact. But what about those surfaces, items and pieces of equipment that aren’t so obvious?
In this article, we’re highlighting some of the lesser known points of risk for cross-contamination in your medical facility.
1. Cell Phones
If you think about it, cell phones travel from room to room, from unit to unit, without ever getting sterilized or cleaned. They’re used not just for personal communication, but also for calculations and quick searches.
In one study that assessed the contamination of healthcare workers’ cell phones, the rate of bacterial contamination was around 95%. The most common bacteria found on cell phones was coagulase-negative staphylococci, with the second most common being S. aureus.
Stethoscopes are frequented by bacteria. Studies found that both diaphragms and earpieces of stethoscopes are heavily contaminated with S. aureus, Acinetobacter spp. and A. baumannii. Doctors are huge culprits here. The same study found that only 30% of doctors surveyed cleaned their stethoscopes between patients, compared to 91% of nurses.
You might not think about your floors, but they run through every part of a medical facility. From waiting rooms to examination rooms to staff lounges, they are a conduit for all kinds of bacteria.
In one study that examined the floors of four different Cleveland hospitals, 72% of floors contained C. Difficile, 33% contained vancomycin-resistant enterococci, and 22% contained MRSA. To stop this spread, invest in high-quality floor mats that provide a barrier at your entryways. It’s also important to have high-quality mops so that you always have effective tools on hand to sterilize your floors.
4. Medical charts
Medical charts are another overlooked surface that gets frequently touched in a healthcare setting. Charts are passed from physicians to nurses to medical staff day after day after day. They are used to take notes directly after patient contact and even invasive procedures. They travel throughout many different areas of a single building in the course of hours, leading to a contamination rate as high as 90%.
5. Bed linen and patient gowns
According to a study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, bed linens and patient gowns have the highest contamination rates of objects in a typical patient room setting. And it makes sense, right? Bed linens and patient gowns are the closest items to an infected person, coming into direct contact with his or her skin for hours at a time in some cases. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that your linens are being thoroughly cleaned and sanitized, or your linens will likely spread infections from patient to patient.
The OSHA has a helpful guide for handling contaminated laundry within a healthcare facility. Aside from proper handling, make sure that you’re trusting your laundry to a reliable medical laundry service provider that meets the highest standards for hygienic linen processing.
To reduce cross-contamination in your healthcare facility, work with Wilkins!
We know how important it is for hospitals and clinics to provide excellent care, so we deliver hygienic and comfortable linens at competitive prices. Our services are compliant with all JCAHO standards, so you can rest assured that we’re doing everything we can to protect your patients and staff from harm.
To learn more about our healthcare services, give us a call today at 1(866) 945-5467!