A recent report from the Health Care Research Collaborative points out the need for studies to determine the impact of green cleaning programs on health outcomes in patients and staff, and for additional studies to determine the impact of green cleaners on environmental cleanliness and hospital-acquired infection transmission. The report, "Green Cleaning in Healthcare: Current Practices and Questions for Future Research," noted that studies need to address a number of topics to to help health care facilities choose an effective green cleaning program.

"This report indicates that in their efforts to implement green cleaning programs, most hospitals do not have the research available to them in order to determine the best cleaners for their programs, nor do they have sufficient guidance to determine which of the green cleaners are proven to be most effective in the health care setting," said Xiaobo Quan, Ph.D., EDAC, of The Center for Health Design.  "We also found that we need additional information about green alternative cleaners — such as their impact on staff illness and reaction to the cleaners."

For the report, authors Quan; Anjali Joseph, Ph.D., EDAC; and Matthew Jelen, all from The Center for Health Design, conducted a literature review and  five case studies, and analyzed 150 responses to an online hospital survey conducted by the Healthier Hospitals Initiative Pebble Project, which was initiated to promote and support development of green cleaning initiatives by better understanding current green cleaning practices and identifying future research topics of high priority. The authors found that variations exist in green cleaning practices across different facilities. The selection of cleaning products that contain or use less harsh chemicals is the most commonly adopted method. Almost all case study facilities conducted initial evaluation of new products and procedures before implementation, but rarely monitored or evaluated the performance of the products and procedures after adoption.

"We need to provide more information — for example, what constitutes a green cleaning program for a healthcare facility," stated Dr. Joseph. "Further, there is no clear evidence indicating whether cleaners that are promoted as 'green clean­ers' effectively meet infection prevention needs and standards given the current focus on the environmen­tal contribution to HAIs or whether such cleaners have unknown health risks.  There is an urgent need to conduct research around cleaning in healthcare."

Read this full report here.