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Poor Hospital Cleaning Revealed in Recent Canadian Study
The health of hospital patients, staff and visitors is increasingly at risk, according to a March 2012 study reported by Erica Johnson of the Canadian Broadcasting Company. Using hidden cameras in 11 Canadian hospitals, the examiners found "many of [the hospitals] were surprisingly inadequate [when it comes to cleaning], in short…dirty."
To test the cleanliness of the hospitals, researchers placed a harmless gel that glows under ultraviolet light on such things as elevator buttons, railings, door handles and light switches. Twenty-four hours later, the gel was still found on the surfaces, "meaning the surfaces had not been cleaned at all," says the report.
This is happening at a time when Canadian hospitals are experiencing a shocking number of increased cases of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs). About 250,000 Canadians come down with life-threatening infections while in hospitals every year, according to the report — the highest rate in the developed world. It is estimated that as many as 12,000 people die each year in Canada as a result of HAIs.
Researchers believe one of the key reasons the problem exists is because hospital cleaning workers are being forced to do more with less and do it faster, according to Mike Sawchuk, vice president and general manager of Enviro-Solutions.
"The study found that at one time, one cleaning worker was responsible for cleaning one floor of a hospital. Now they may have as many as three floors to clean," he says.
While some hospitals appear to be in far worse sanitary conditions than others, problems are now found in almost all Canadian hospitals. Also, housekeeping staffs are being cut throughout the Canadian hospital system in order to balance budgets.
"Although the study focused on Canadian hospitals, there are likely similar examples in U.S. hospitals and other facilities throughout North America," says Sawchuk. "We must remember that while costs are a key concern throughout North America, this must be balanced out with our industry's top priority which remains the health of the facilities we clean."