How clean is clean?: monitoring surface disinfection in healthcare facilities.

October 16, 2020 Nikki Kluck, BS, MS

female nurse cleaning beside a bed in a floor in a hospital room

In healthcare facilities, it is essential to ensure that various high-touch room surfaces are monitored and disinfected regularly.

The Provincial Infectious Diseases Advisory Committee (PIDAC) and Public Health Ontario (PHO) recommend that staff use checklists to ensure that all steps of the cleaning process have been followed.1

An important part of this process includes cleaning and disinfecting all surfaces, like doors, door handles, light switches, and chairs.2

Choosing an effective surface disinfectant for healthcare facilities.

While you are likely aware of the potential for cross-contamination from these high-touch surfaces, they are often not the worst offenders when it comes to residual contamination following terminal cleaning. Perhaps this is due to the increasing awareness of these sites as being high-touch surfaces. But, there are other patient room surfaces commonly showing residual contamination that may surprise you.

ATP cleaning monitoring is one way to monitor patient room terminal cleaning. The 3M™ Clean-Trace™ Monitoring System uses ATP bioluminescence technology to “see” contaminants. When ATP is combined with the reactants in the 3M™ Clean-Trace™ ATP Surface Tests, light is produced that can be easily read by the 3M™ Clean-Trace™ Luminometer. The results are expressed in Relative Light Units (RLU), representing the amount of clinical soil on the surface. The results can be uploaded to 3M’s secure online hosted service, the 3M™ Quality Control Data Manager (QCDM).

By anonymously aggregating ATP environmental surface test data from QCDM across the United States since 2018 (January 2018 through September 2019), we were able to identify the following top four contaminated room surface offenders:

  • Electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG) lead wires: 14% above the threshold
  • Pulse oximetry equipment (including finger clip and cables): 15% above the threshold
  • Chair armrests (including the armrests of patient chairs, breastfeeding chairs, and visitor chairs): 25% above the threshold
  • Cables (non-designated patient monitoring cables): 26% above the threshold

The top four offenders were defined as those where more than 10% of the time that these touchpoints were tested with the 3M™ Clean-Trace™ ATP Monitoring System, the results were higher than the facility’s predetermined ATP pass/fail threshold of 250 Relative Light Units (RLU).

So, the next time you rest your hand on a chair armrest, connect a reusable ECG lead wire, or clip a pulse oximeter onto a patient’s finger, think twice about the potential for cross-contamination from those surfaces. Could those items be single-patient-use? And, consider how proper hand hygiene and your facility’s surface disinfecting program play into every surface you come in contact with.

Learn more about surface disinfectants.

To learn more about establishing an effective environmental monitoring and disinfecting checklist, contact an expert by filling out the form below.

 

References.

  1. Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion (Public Health Ontario), Provincial Infectious Diseases Advisory Committee. 2018. “Best practices for environmental cleaning for prevention and control of infections in health care settings.” 3rd ed. Toronto, ON: Queen’s Printer for Ontario: p. 165.
  2. Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion (Public Health Ontario), Provincial Infectious Diseases Advisory Committee. 2018. “Best practices for environmental cleaning for prevention and control of infections in health care settings.” 3rd ed. Toronto, ON: Queen’s Printer for Ontario: p. 167.

About the Author

Nikki Kluck, BS, MS

[enBio=Nikki is a biomedical engineer with over ten years of experience with the 3M Health Care business group. Nikki is the Global Technical Applications Specialist for the 3M™ Clean-Trace™ ATP Monitoring System. Her role includes providing education and technical service support to customers and sales personnel in the Device Reprocessing business and bringing the voice of the customer to cross-functional product development teams. SheNikki also participates in US AAMI working groups for sterilization related standards and is an associate or industry member of APIC, IAHCSMM, and SGNA.],[enJob=3M Senior Technical Service Specialist],[frBio=Nikki est une ingénieure biomédicale avec plus de dix ans d’expérience au sein du groupe du secteur Soins de santé 3M. Nikki est la spécialiste mondiale des applications techniques pour le Système de surveillance à base d’ATP Clean-TraceMC 3MMC. Son rôle consiste également à offrir de la formation et du soutien technique aux clients et au personnel des ventes dans le secteur du retraitement des appareils, et à agir à titre de porte-parole des clients auprès des équipes interfonctionnelles de développement de produits. Nikki participe aussi aux groupes de travail américains de l’AAMI concernant les normes de stérilisation et est membre associée ou membre de l’industrie de l’APIC, de l’IAHCSMM et de la SGNA.],[frJob=Spécialiste principale du service technique de 3M]

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