Audience listens to the speech of the lecturer in the conference hall

Despite advances in medicines and treatments, there’s one simple fact that has never changed: prevention is better than a cure. It’s the reason countries invest in vaccines. However, hospitals are struggling to tackle the silent epidemic of healthcare acquired infections (HAIs).  

HAIs are, and remain, a huge problem for healthcare organizations. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) estimates that  4.5 million HAIs occur in Europe’s hospitals every year. This means that on any given day, one in every 15 hospital patients has an HAI. 

This highlights the challenge for hospitals as they work to provide the highest standards of care. Healthcare professionals are treating illness and injury, only to see patients are contracting infections. Sometimes, the HAIs can even present a greater risk to patient safety than the original reason for hospital admission. 

And that’s the critical element. HAIs are reversing the efforts of healthcare professionals – putting their patients at risk of disability and death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that HAIs cause close to 1.7 million deaths a year in the United States alone. Imagine scaling that to a global level. 

The real problem is that this number is not slowing down any time soon. Roughly 2.7 million new HAI cases spring up each year across the European Union. HAIs have become a silent epidemic that will turn into a global crisis if we don’t take action now.  

The new approach of the Healthcare Cleaning Forum 2020 

There’s an undeniable link between hospital environments and patient safety. And it’s an area that was explored at Interclean Amsterdam 2018 following the creation of a special, dedicated event. 

The event was a huge success, drawing attendees from all over the world. Its popularity underlined how organizations often undervalue healthcare cleaning as a solution. As the report from the HCF highlighted, “The importance of the hospital environment in patient care has only recently been recognized.” Healthcare institutions everywhere are still working out how best to provide infection prevention.  

The Healthcare Cleaning Forum will return to Interclean Amsterdam 2020. The forum is all about embracing the shift that is happening in healthcare environmental hygiene, and staying ahead of the market. Pathogens in the patient environment are now recognized as a major source of healthcare-acquired infections. Academics have also been able to confirm that improving the patient environment lowers these infection rates and saves lives. The forum is addressing this on diverse fronts: by driving forward the academic research, championing technical innovations, adapting solutions to real-life contexts and changing how people think about the workforce. It's important to combine the knowledge in healthcare institutions, industry and academia in order to make real difference on the front lines. 

The new objective of the forum is to deliver the best scientific research and experience. This academic foundation could drive and support best innovations, enabling those attending to become both the leader in the market and patient safety.

In terms of the practical sessions, the forum will offer a range of useful ‘how to’ demonstrations in areas such as instrument sterilization and waste management. There will also be a chance to learn how water and air quality affect hospital environments and patient outcomes. 

Returning to the HCF to share his knowledge will be Dr. Didier Pittet, professor of Medicine and Hospital Epidemiology at the University of Geneva Hospitals in Switzerland. Among others, Alexandra Peters of the Infection Control Programme at the University of Geneva Hospitals and Dr. Pierre Parneix, Doctor of Public Health and Hospital Hygiene at Bordeaux Hospital University Center will be joining the forum. New to the stage is Dr. Cheryl Dunn, CQC support director from Dudley Group of Hospitals FT. 

Parneix will elaborate on the four quality assessment methods and associated standards to define targets and acceptable levels. The methods are used to monitor the efficacy of cleaning processes of hospital surfaces, including post discharge cleaning and high touch surfaces management. Next to that, the methods also apply to environmental management, ATP and the removal of fluorescent marker priory applied on surfaces.

Dunn will explain to what extent a hospital’s organizational culture can affect HAI prevention. In this session, matters related to organizational leadership, courage and an accountability culture will be reflected on.