No one goes to the hospital to get sicker but, alarmingly, it happens all the time. According to the CDC, on any given day, about one in 25 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection. Also known as nosocomial or hospital acquired infections (HAI), these conditions are costly and a major threat to patient safety.
The strategy for fighting HAIs includes disinfecting frequently touched hospital surfaces; think bed rails and call buttons. But what about the floor? Studies show that cleaning hospital floors is key to preventing hospital acquired infections.
The Social and Economic Cost of HAIs
From the Floor Up, a whitepaper by David Harry and Jack McGurk reports that in 2002 over 98,000 people died from HAIs. Increased monitoring and oversight meant that in 2009, HAIs cost hospitals a total of $40.3 billion, representing 11% of total hospital spend. A facility that does not reduce their HAI rate will not receive Medicare reimbursements, a penalty that cost over 2,500 hospitals $538 million in 2017.
Pathogens Hiding Underfoot
Proper environmental cleaning is essential to preventing nosocomial transmission of Clostridium difficile (C diff), MRSA and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE). Hospital floors are often heavily contaminated with these pathogens, but as floors are rarely touched limited attention is paid to cleaning them. However, a study in the American Journal of Infection Control may change that. It shows that a variety of high touch objects like clothing, cell phone chargers, call buttons, blood pressure cuffs and linens end up on the floor. Picking up these objects transfers pathogens to hands and then to anywhere hands touch.
Another study indicated that non-slip socks worn by ambulatory patients carried MRSA and VRE throughout the hospital and, alarmingly, right back into the patient’s bed.
Stop the Mop to Clean the Floor Right
Correctly cleaning hospital floors will go a long way to further prevent hospital acquired infections. Some facilities may choose microfiber mops for this task as they are better at removing soils than cotton string mops. However, Harry and McGurk’s whitepaper shows that a newly laundered microfiber flat mop can, and likely is, contributing to cross-contamination within healthcare environments. They note that the laundry process itself results in reduced cleaning efficacy and point to the bulk laundering of mops from multiple hospitals as another potential source of cross contamination.
Stop the mop and choose a cleaning system that cleans without cross contamination. An OmniFlex system removes soils and pathogens, leaving floors clean and dry.
Click here to learn more about cleaning hospital floors.
Amy Milshtein covers design, facility management and business topics for a variety of trade publications and consumer magazines.
Her work has won several awards, most recently a regional silver Azbee Award of Excellence.
She lives in Portland, OR with her family and Clyde, a 15-lb tabby cat. Once an avid hiker, these days she finds herself on the less-challenging -but-still-exciting 'creaky knees' trails.