Disinfecting Hospital Floors
A reader writes: “I am a nurse and insist that the floors in ALL areas be disinfected each day. I do not agree with using a cleaner that does not kill all germs and guarantees the entire area safe for our patients. How do you respond?”
I agree that we certainly want to kill germs and all pathogens that can be a hazard to your patients. I certainly encourage you to have high disinfecting standards for touch points since transmission from one surface to another is very important. I also recommend that you have high standards for controlling dust, which can carry airborne pathogens throughout the clinic. This may include using microfiber wipes and a HEPA type vacuum system at a minimum.
As to your concerns regarding applying disinfectants (including using bleach straight out of the bottle) I respectfully disagree and will try to share some of the science that governs my reasons. First of all, bleach must be diluted correctly with water and allowed to dwell to be most effective. This is the same for all disinfectants unless they are RTU (ready-to-use), which means they have been pre-mixed with water. Another point to consider is that synthetic floors you have are already designed to be anti-microbial and recommend that only a neutral (pH 7-8) with detergency to protect the floor surface from premature aging as well as negating its anti-microbial properties.
Although your intent is good, the end result actually can damage and open the pores of the floor so that it can become a breeding ground for pathogen growth. Each time the floor is “disinfected” with the harsh chemicals, it opens up and allows the dead pathogens to become a source of food for bacteria and viruses in the air or on someone’s shoes. This same concept applies to floor finishes, which cannot tolerate harsh disinfectants.
I highly recommend you allow the custodians to keep the floor clean and dry, which is a natural enemy to most pathogens. Focus their attention on touch points and airborne particles instead.
Your comments and questions are important. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean...
Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or CTCG50@comcast.net