In any healthcare facility, one of the biggest concerns always looms around preventing the spread of disease and infection. Infections spreading in hospitals can add up to $4.5 billion per year in additional U.S. healthcare costs. With that said, preventing the spread of disease and infection is essential in keeping costs down, and keeping patients healthy. Practicing proper hygiene is one of the easiest and most manageable ways to limit the spread of infection. Here are a few ways to tackle the prevention before it spreads throughout your facility.

Cleaning, Disinfecting, and Sanitizing

Ensuring that staff understands the difference between cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing can be extremely beneficial. The breakdown below describes the differences between the different ways of removing germs and bacteria.

Cleaning: removing germs and dirt from the area. Cleaning is done with soap or detergent and water. This physically removes the germs from those areas and surfaces. The takeaway of cleaning is that cleaning doesn’t kill germs– it removes them which lowers their numbers, thus reducing the risk of the infection spreading.

Disinfecting: killing germs from the area. This is done through the use of chemicals to kill germs in that area. The key to this is that is disinfecting doesn’t clean dirty surfaces, but killing germs can help reduce the risk of spreading the infection.

Sanitizing: lowering the number of germs to a safe level (set by public health standards/requirements). This is done through cleaning or disinfecting to lower the number of germs.

Proper hand hygiene

When it comes to healthcare facilities, maintaining proper hand hygiene is essential to limiting the spread of infection. Making sure that all employees understand the proper hand-washing methods is imperative to preventing the spread of infections. Below is the proper process for washing hands, according to Service Master Clean.

-Wet hands with water

-Apply soap, lather and scrub for 20 seconds

-Pay attention to all surfaces of hands

-Rinse and dry hands using a clean cloth, air dryer, or disposable towel

Focus on high-touch areas

The high-touch areas listed below need to be disinfected more frequently than other areas, as they come into more frequent contact with potentially infected people. Ensuring these areas are free of harmful bacteria and germs can limit the spread of infection and avoid cross-contamination. Below is a list of high-touch areas in hospitals and healthcare facilities.

-Bed rails

-Door handles

-Bedside tables

-Bathroom faucets

-Toilet seats and flush handles

-Telephones

-Elevator Buttons

-Hand sanitizer dispenser

Staying on top of cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing in healthcare facilities is the easiest way to stop the preventable spread of infection. Ensuring that all employees understand and follow the hygiene protocols will benefit the patients in your healthcare facility and in keeping the costs of healthcare from rising.

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