An EVS staff can do everything right when it comes to hitting every assigned surface with the appropriate disinfectant at the proper frequencies, yet all it takes is one overlooked surface — perhaps one not even on a checklist — to cause an infectious chain reaction. Playing host to some of the sickest people in a hospital prior to any treatment are emergency area waiting rooms, making them a potential hotbed for cross-contamination.

According to Patterson and McGurk, the chairs, registration counters and other frequently touched items in the waiting rooms are too often overlooked in the cleaning process.

Additional areas include the contamination of patient room floors. Citing a study of five Cleveland-area hospitals in The American Journal of Infection Control, C.diff contamination was found on the floors of 53 percent of patient-occupied rooms and 44 percent of patient rooms post-terminal clean.

Combined with the commonality of slip socks for patients, Patterson and McGurk agree that the floor contamination rates are a potent combo for cross-contamination. According to a 2016 study from Journal of Hospital Infection, 85 percent of slip socks tested positive for VRE, compared to 69 percent of floor samples. Nine percent of socks were also contaminated with MRSA, compared to 17 percent of floor samples.

“The socks were found to be a potential vehicle for transporting these pathogens throughout the hospital,” says Patterson. “Compounding this problem, patients often wear these socks to bed upon returning to their room, contaminating their bed linens and bringing these pathogens into the patient care zone.”

Bledy echoed similar concerns when it comes to laundry-related cleaning, specifically the tendency to overlook touchpoints. From bedding or curtains to the machines and transport carts themselves, similar cross-contamination threats exist despite being emphasized less than the standard cleaning protocols of tables, bedrails or remotes.

“The middle of a cubicle curtain, for example, is one of the dirtiest spots in the hospital,” says Bledy. “Nurses, family and even the patients will grab it with whatever germs and bacteria were on their hand.”

Additional touchpoints with overlook potential include elevator buttons and security code pads, which should be routinely cleaned with germicidal wipes especially during flu season, Bledy stresses.

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