Cleaning for health

22 February 2016

Studies indicate that some cleaning methods prove more effective than others at reducing or eliminating health-risking contaminants.

But a new study published by the School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania finds that earlier studies have not taken the next step: investigating the degree to which specific cleaning methods contribute to a reduction in infections.

The study focused on healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) and specifically on common "high touch surfaces" in hospitals such as tray tables, bed rails, light switches and toilets. 

"The cleaning of hard surfaces in hospital rooms is critical for reducing health-care associated infections," says Dr. Jennifer Han, an assistant professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania. 

"We found the research to date does provide a good overall picture of the before and after results of particular cleaning agents and approaches [systems] to monitor cleaning. Researchers now need to take the next step and compare [these cleaning systems] in order to determine which are the most effective in driving down the rate of hospital-acquired infections."

According to Tom Morrison, marketing manager for Kaivac, developers of the No-Touch and OmniFlex cleaning systems, "it sounds like our industry has forgotten one of the most important parts of the 'cleaning for health' puzzle. We have tested our own [Kaivac] products many times for cleaning effectiveness but just as the report indicates, have not taken the next step to see how this translates into improved [patient] outcomes."

Reducing or eliminating these bacteria and germs is becoming more and more critical in health-care settings. The report said that HAIs have been increasing steadily over the past 15 years and in 2011, there were over 721,000 HAIs in the U.S., making it a leading cause of death in this country.

"Most likely, this is something ISSA and other leading organisations and manufacturers in the professional industry should investigate further," Morrison added. "If we really are 'cleaning for health,' I guess it's time to prove it."