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There was a time when hospitals were routinely inspected for sanitation, but it’s been over 50 years since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised hospitals to stop testing for pathogens and bacteria on surfaces. Outlined in a Healthcare Facilities Today article written by Darrel Hicks, an infection control consultant, the decision was made because the practice was considered both unnecessary and a poor use of budget, since there will “always be something” on the surface. 

Despite MRSA infections increasing by 50 times since the absence of routine testing, the CDC’s latest guidelines still deem bacterial tests unnecessary. Pathogens will continue to thrive in the right conditions in hospital settings unless hygienic cleaning is done, and can even be carried into the air by dust currents and carry to surfaces near patients. This is a huge factor in studies that have linked hospital equipment to infection outbreaks. 

Questioning Accreditation And Response

With a lack of routine testing, it leads to questioning whether hospitals are truly holding a high standard of clean, even if they are accredited by the Join Commission. In an investigation of state hospitals, it was found that nearly one fourth of all hospitals that were found to have unsanitary conditions were accredited anyway. 

The effectiveness of hygiene procedures isn't only contingent on the efficacy of products themselves — they need the right procedures in place that meet a facility's goals, be it effectively cleaning fabrics, hands, or environmental surfaces. Only cleaning surfaces when they are "visibly" soiled sets a dangerous precedent. C.diff, for example, can be transmitted from fecal matter even if it's the size of a pinhead. Establishing a standard of visible surface cleaning not only breeds complacency, but a far greater potential for pathogen outbreaks, so it's up to facility cleaning managers to set their own standards for checking surfaces, applying the right products and implementing the right processes for doing so. 

For additional coverage on preventing hospital acquired infections (HAIs), check out this feature from Facility Cleaning Decisions.