When And Where Disinfection Is Needed
Do Floors Need To Be Disinfected?
Methods for cleaning floors include dry and wet vacuuming, wet mopping, spray-and-vac or spray-and-squeegee machines, steam vapor machines and self-contained autoscrubbers. Methods that produce the least amount of “dust clouding” are preferred.
Floors are not a high-touch surface, but some cleaning professionals and healthcare experts suggest including them in the disinfection process. But the issue of whether or not floors should be disinfected is unresolved.
The law of gravity turns floors into depositories of everything from soiled tissues to dust to microscopic organisms. The floors in a hospital setting, especially in a patient’s room, get littered and loaded with stuff of varying size from microscopic to large enough to see and pick up by hand.
The best practice is to insure that floors are clean, meaning you have no dust, no spots and no smells. Instead, save your disinfectant for high-touch surfaces.
That said, it is essential that you do disinfect floors whenever blood or highly infectious agents are present.
How Can I Break Through Biofilm?
Underscoring the need for cleaning in addition to disinfecting, scientists are finding that germs are tougher than anyone ever imagined.
Bacteria on damp surfaces don’t remain as isolated and free-floating life forms; they communicate and colonize with other germs to build a tough, protective biofilm that can withstand even the strongest disinfectants.
Bacteria and other microbes require a damp surface to form a biofilm. You also are likely to encounter biofilms inside water pipes and under the rims of toilets and urinals. Wet areas surrounding drains and faucets provide ideal conditions for biofilm formation, and so may frequently splashed areas on counters and floors.
Biofilms are everywhere and you can’t kill them with a disinfectant by itself. Biofilm protects itself with a tough, thick skin that makes up two-thirds of the film. You have to break through the skin to make the germs vulnerable to the disinfectant.
One of the best methods of breaking through biofilm’s skin is agitating, brushing or scrubbing the surface to which it’s attached. For difficult-to-reach areas like the cracks and crevices around faucets, a stiff toothbrush helps break down the colonies.
A portable steam vapor system may also be an effective tool to kill the organisms or microbes that hide within the biofilm. The heat penetrates the biofilm and the microbes, which otherwise may not be affected by disinfectants.
Yet another highly effective method of removing biofilm in wet areas around a rest room or toilet area is the high-to-medium spray-and-vac system. The pressure of the water provides the agitation and blasts through the biofilm and dislodges it. Then the vacuum system with a squeegee cleans the slurry off a surface and sucks it all into a holding tank.
What Are The Best Techniques To Cleaning/Disinfecting Between Patients In A Healthcare Setting?
During the course of a patient’s stay, several pieces of equipment are used — blood pressure cuffs, bedpans, urinals, IV poles, wheelchairs, gurneys, portable commodes, etc. Often, the topic of “Who cleans patient care equipment?” comes up in a hospital. Your hospital administration will determine who is responsible for insuring that clean and disinfected equipment is always available for the next patient to use.
If it is your job to clean and disinfect patient care equipment, you must take this responsibility seriously, especially if the patient is isolated for a communicable disease.
As with all high touch items, the equipment has to be thoroughly cleaned with as many clean cloths as it takes to remove the soil. Use the cleaning cloths one time and then put them in a bag for laundering.
If the item is a bedpan or urinal, it must be emptied of the contents and cleaned with a small, disposable Johnny Mop. The mop can be kept in a patient’s toilet area during their stay and used numerous times for that one patient, but should then be discarded when that patient id discharged. The mop should be kept in a cleaning solution that is changed after each use.
After the equipment is thoroughly cleaned, it can then be disinfected with a second, single-use cloth. Use the cloth one time and then put it in a bag for laundering.
If the item is a bedpan or urinal, after it is thoroughly cleaned with the first process, use a separate Johnny Mop and disinfectant solution to thoroughly disinfect it. Remember: Allow the disinfected surface to air dry for three minutes before returning it to use.