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The Role of Proper Cleaning and Disinfection in Medical Centers

Disinfection and sterilization obviously play a huge role in medical facility safety. A major part of infectious control, the right kind of cleaning practices have to be introduced in an attempt to maximize the safety of both patients and medical staff.

The use of germicides is one of the simplest ways to keep hospital and medical clinic surfaces in perfect condition. There are other specialized practices required for preventing healthcare-associated infections.

Types of Healthcare Items

Items and surfaces in medical facilities are classified according to the infection risk associated with each.

Critical items come with the highest risk and demand the strictest infectious control measures. Surgical instruments, catheters, and implants are all classified as critical items that can cause disease transmission or even death when contaminated. Such items need to be sterilized properly to reduce the risk.

Semicritical items include respiratory therapy equipment, laryngoscope blades, diaphragm fitting rings, and several others. These items come in contact with mucous membranes. The mucous membranes are resistant to infections, which is why semicritcal items have to be cleaned with disinfecting chemicals.

The last category consists of noncritical items. These are the surfaces and the equipment in the hospital that come in contact with intact skin. In such instances, the risk of infection is the smallest and the cleaning practices revolve around the use of germicidal cleaning products.

Why Cleaning and Disinfection Matter

Several clinical studies confirm the fact that infectious control will be very difficult without selecting the right healthcare facility cleaning practices.

Studies also suggest that both hospital workers and patients are at risk of infection because of contact with germ-containing surfaces. One study suggests that patients admitted to hospital rooms previously occupied by people that were infected with certain kinds of bacteria put these people at risk.

The results of one study were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2006. The researchers tested more than 10,000 people admitted to hospitals for acquired antibiotic-resistant bacteria like methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE). The researchers found out that admission to a room that was previously occupied by a person infected with these bacteria increased the risk of infection for a new patient significantly.

The Future?

Proper hospital hygiene and disinfection have become even more important in recent years. The threat of bioterrorism is constantly being examined, forcing medical center staff to look for the most efficient and innovative possibilities for infectious control.

New antibiotic-resistant pathogens and bioterrorism attempts are making more and more people concerned. Various pathogens can be spread easily through person-to-person contact or contact with infected surfaces.

The good news is that most of these contemporary threats are susceptible to chemicals and disinfectants used for cleaning purposes in hospitals and medical facilities. If the hygiene practices are maintained at the right level, the risk of bio-terrorism or the easy spread of infections is minimal.

Standard procedures like sterilization and disinfection for patient-care equipment are adequate enough for proper infectious control. The risks associated with exposure to pathogens are significant. This is why strict standards and guidelines exist and need to be followed carefully in medical facilities and treatment centers.

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