Cleaning agents can only do so much if quality-cleaning practices are not adhered to.

To that end, Jewish Hospital-Mercy Health made a number of cleaning policy changes that proved effective in preventing C. diff infections.

First, the hospital began changing the privacy curtains when C. diff patients were discharged from the hospital, and sometimes even during the patient’s hospital stay.

Realizing that restrooms are a high source of C. diff contamination, the hospital then targeted restroom-cleaning practices. Similarly to what is done at St. Luke’s Hospital, housekeepers started cleaning C. diff patient rooms twice daily — once in the morning and once in the afternoon — and cleaning tools used in these areas are never left in the room. For instance, every C. diff room gets its own toilet brush, which is disposed of once patients are discharged.

Dedicated microfiber cloths and mops are also used in these rooms, and are changed several times during the cleaning process. Up to seven cloths may be used to clean a single C. diff patient room, Martin says.

Finally, the hospital purchased a real-time adenosine triphosphate (ATP) cleaning, validation and tracking system, which environmental service supervisors use after cleaning is completed to assess whether any bacterial residue remains. If levels remain high after cleaning, they spend time retraining housekeepers so everyone maintains the same high standard of cleanliness.

In addition to what is being done at Jewish Hospital-Mercy Health, Hicks outlines a number of common-sense steps that can be taken to prevent the spread of C. diff.

“When a patient is bed-bound and must use the bedside commode, workers need to clean privacy curtains, the beds and more. Also, laundry shouldn’t be taken into the hallway when it’s full of C. diff spores, it needs to be bagged up inside the room before transport,” he says. “We’ve also found C. diff on employee uniforms so the staff is now required to gown up before they go into a patient room, plus hand washing protocols are further emphasized. Otherwise C. diff is being carried around the hospital on the hands and uniforms of nursing staff and doctors.”

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