We associate hospitals with hygiene and cleanliness. The bed sheets are white, everything is sterilized and doctors and nurses wash their hands all the time.
However, recent concerns about various bugs that one can find in a hospital might make us wonder if, indeed, hospitals are as clean as previously thought.
A new report shows that there is still an alarming lack of knowledge when it comes to cleaning a hospital room. The researchers actually point out that there are very few studies available that guide actions such as how to disinfect and sanitize a patient’s room.
The authors of the study, led by Dr. Craig Umscheid, who is an assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology at the Perelman School of Medicine from the University of Philadelphia, looked at the data collected by 80 different studies, which were carried out between 1998 and 2014.
Surprisingly enough, they noticed that only five of them presented the best ways to sterilize or disinfect surfaces. Other studies referred to the presence of germs before and after certain cleaning products were used.
Moreover, fewer than a third of these studies looked at infection rates caused by surfaces that had not been disinfected and most of them focused on how effective a cleaning product was, but they failed to compare it to other similar products.
“There are all these approaches that are available, and there just are no head-to-head trials that compare one versus another and look at outcomes that matter to patients,” said Dr. Craig Umscheid.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that about 4 percent of the patients who have been hospitalized get an infection from the hospital. In 2011, there were about 720,000 such infections that led to the death of about 75,000 people.
The study points out that the disinfection of hard surfaces receives very little attention in specialized literature and even when it comes to educating people about preventive measures they can take, compared to hand washing.
In spite of that, most germs can be found not only on personal objects but also on bed rails, floors, counters, toilets and even various buttons. Experts have often said that only half of the infected surfaces are properly cleaned to remove germs.
Even so, health officials, such as Patti Costello, who is the executive director of the Association for the Healthcare Environment disagreed with the findings, saying that it doesn’t bring any new information and that healthcare organizations are extremely committed to proper hygiene in such environments.
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