A review of published evidence finds wide variations in hospital cleaning practices intended to prevent healthcare-associated infections. A systematic overview is published in Annals of Internal Medicine.
The cleaning of hard surfaces in hospital rooms is critical for reducing healthcare-associated infections. Environmental cleaning is a complex, multifaceted process and involves the physical action of cleaning surfaces and also the application of disinfectant. Monitoring strategies must also be employed to ensure that cleaning and disinfecting is done properly.
Researchers reviewed published research to summarize the modalities currently used for cleaning, disinfecting, and monitoring cleanliness of patient rooms as well as contextual factors that may impact the implementation and effectiveness of the cleaning process. Studies focused on three key healthcare-associated pathogens – MRSA, VRE, and c. diff. The researchers suggest that evaluating the clinical effectiveness of cleaning and disinfection modalities is challenging and there are several unanswered questions about practices.
The authors of an accompanying editorial say that unlike handwashing, there is yet to be a consensus on the importance of cleaning the inanimate health care environment as a way to prevent the spread of infection. The authors suggest that in addition to more studies, effective communication and education are needed to ensure consistent practices.