Regardless of what you or your staff might think, what can’t be seen can hurt an innocent patient, visitor or staff member. Every year, the unseen “bad bugs” (microorganisms) left on  an improperly cleaned surface adversely effects patients leading to extended hospital stays, driving up the cost of medical care and even death.

No wonder hospitals are dirty. Cruise ships and restaurants are routinely inspected by health departments for cleanliness. For many years, food processing plants have used hand-held devices that measure or quantify the soil left on food preparation surfaces. But, hospitals are not subjected to the same inspections and are not quantifying the effectiveness of their cleaning processes.

The Centers for Disease Control and other organizations urge healthcare workers to wash or sanitize their hands before and after touching a patient, or before and after gloving.  They even encourage patients to insist that hospital workers perform hand hygiene in their presence to make sure it’s being done.

That is a good start but it’s not enough. As long as hospitals aren’t cleaned properly, the hands of doctors and nurses will quickly become contaminated when they touch a bed rail, open a door to a supply cabinet or type on a computer keyboard at the patient’s bedside.  

Multi-drug resistant organisms (MRO’s) such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and VRE (vancomycin-resistant enterococci) and other potentially lethal pathogens such as C. diff (Clostridium difficle) are on the increase and pose one of the most serious problems facing healthcare today. Those “bad bugs” can live on surfaces for several months and are quickly reactivated with moisture. 


J. Darrel Hicks, REH, CHESP, is the author of "Infection Control For Dummies" and has over 30 years of experience in the jan/san industry. For a free 30-minute phone consultation, contact him at or through his website at