people in the waiting area of a hospital / medical facility

7 Professional Ways To Improve Cleanliness In Hospitals

Studies have long emphasized the importance of hard surface cleaning in hospital settings to reduce infections and diseases. 

Healthcare facilities and clinics, while providing healing and care services to patients, can harbor harmful pathogens that lead to hospital-acquired infections (HAIs). 

HAIs pose a serious patient risk, especially for individuals with compromised immune systems. This situation leads to lengthier hospital stays, expensive healthcare costs, and even fatalities. 

This is why hospitals follow a standardized protocol of keeping facilities, equipment, and high-touch surfaces clean to prevent such incidents.

Here are practical and effective hospital cleaning strategies to improve hygiene in patient-care settings. We’ll cover the frequency of cleaning, staff training, equipment choice, tech advancements, and the role of professional cleaning services.

How Often Should a Hospital Room be Cleaned?

Hospital rooms in general should be cleaned at least once a day, with additional cleaning done after a patient is discharged or transferred. This prevents the spread of germs of contaminants left behind by the previous patient.

However, the cleaning frequency varies depending on these factors:

  • Patient condition: Rooms housing patients who are quarantined due to infectious diseases or compromised immune systems require more frequent cleaning, sometimes multiple times daily to reduce the risk of transmission.
  • Room type: In ICUs, operating rooms typically have stricter cleaning protocols due to the presence of high-touch surfaces and a higher risk of infection.
  • Isolation protocols: Patients who are under stringent isolation protocols or quarantine require specialized cleaning. For example, stronger disinfectants like bleach or hydrogen peroxide may be used, alongside the use of UV-C disinfection devices for targeted surface and equipment sterilization.
  • Spills or contamination: Chemical-spill-related incidents can affect various hospital operations and patient care (surgery, infection control, endoscopy, hemodialysis, etc.). Immediate cleaning and disinfection are required in such cases to prevent the spread of germs.

Hospitals generally have standardized cleaning procedures that delineate specific tasks, cleaning solutions and techniques for various types of cleaning.

Regular cleaning and disinfection of hospital rooms, combined with proper handwashing and waste disposal are critical in preventing hospital-acquired infections.

1. Train and Empower Staff on Proper Cleaning Techniques

The foundation of a clean hospital depends on the knowledge and skills of the cleaning staff. Comprehensive training programs are critical to ensure all personnel, from housekeeping to nursing, have the expertise to maintain a hygienic environment.

Comprehensive training should typically cover:

  • Proper handwashing techniques, including soap and water usage for at least 20 seconds; use of alcohol sanitizers in the event handwashing is not possible; emphasis on hand hygiene before, during, and after patient contact, equipment handling, and entering or leaving a room.
  • Education on how to apply hospital-grade disinfectants including dilution ratios, contact times, and application. Staff must be trained to identify high-touch surfaces and contamination-prone areas, as well as, follow protocols for cleaning and disinfection of various materials and equipment.
  • Cleaning techniques: Staff education on the correct floor, wall, ceiling, furniture, and equipment cleaning techniques. The materials may involve microfiber mops, clothes, color-coded cleaning tools, and a checklist to avoid missing any areas.
  • Waste disposal: Proper procedures and precautions for waste disposal and segregation should be followed at all times. Staff training on reporting suspected infections or contamination events should be robust.

  • Infection control protocols: Familiarization with hospital infection control policies and procedures, including isolation, outbreaks, and suspected infections/contamination events.

2. Invest in High-Quality Cleaning Equipment and Supplies

Cleaning a hospital requires hospital-grade solutions, equipment, and supplies to eliminate pathogens and ensure a sterile environment.

Here are some examples of essential cleaning equipment that are a must for hospitals and other healthcare facilities:

  • Microfiber mops and cloths
  • HEPA-filtered vacuums
  • Electrostatic sprayers
  • Autoclaves
  • Industrial floor scrubbers and polishers
  • EPA-registered disinfectants effective on bacteria, viruses, and fungi
  • Non-abrasive and non-corrosive cleaning solutions (for staff and patient safety)
  • Handwashing stations with antimicrobial soap and alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
  • Disposable wipes and towels

3. Focus on High-Touch Surfaces

nurse with an iv pole walking in a hospital hallway

Hospitals see an endless influx of people coming and going into different spots, which makes certain surfaces hotspots for germ transmission. 

Prioritizing the cleaning and disinfection of these is critical to minimizing the spread of infection and ensuring a hygienic environment. Here are some key high-touch surfaces to focus on:

  • Door handles and push plates
  • Bed rails and bedside tables
  • Light switches and call buttons
  • IV poles and various medical equipment
  • Computer keyboards and mice
  • Waiting room furniture

4. Implement Strict Hand Hygiene Protocols

Hand hygiene is the cornerstone of infection prevention in hospitals. Properly washing or sanitizing hands can significantly reduce transmission levels of harmful pathogens, protecting staff and patients alike.

Reinforcement of handwashing is vital — medical facilities must ensure easy access to hand hygiene stations throughout the facility, fully stocked with soap, hand sanitizers, and disposable towels.

Visual reminders, regular monitoring of compliance, and promotional campaigns can all further create a culture of cleanliness and prioritization of hand hygiene within a hospital setting. Every clean hand is a step towards a healthier and safer hospital.

5. Use Technology for Enhanced Cleaning

Healthcare is ever-evolving and technology has begun playing an increasingly crucial role in ensuring stringent hygiene standards are implemented. 

Incorporating innovative sanitation and sterilization tools, systems, and procedures allows hospitals to enhance cleaning efficiency, improve infection control and create a safer environment for all.

Here are some technological advancements for medical facilities to consider:

  • Smart sensors: Smart sensors provide real-time data into many aspects of hygiene and environmental conditions. For instance, smart sensors can be placed near hand hygiene stations to track the frequency of hand hygiene compliance by staff. Beyond this, smart sensors can also monitor the presence of airborne particles, VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), and other pollutants that could affect staff and patient health.

  • Robotic cleaners: Hospital cleaning robots are also becoming popular for cleaning large floor areas. They free up human staff, allowing the latter to focus more on their core tasks. Robot cleaners are autonomous and can be programmed to clean areas during off-peak hours.

6. Engage a Reputable Commercial Cleaning Company

A hospital’s in-house staff may be able to handle daily routine maintenance and light cleaning. However, enlisting the expertise of a reputable commercial cleaning company can significantly improve the cleanliness and hygiene of a healthcare center.

Hiring commercial cleaning companies allows hospitals to reduce expenses associated with purchasing and maintaining specialized cleaning equipment, acquiring hospital-grade cleaning solutions, and training dedicated cleaning staff.

7. Regularly Audit and Monitor Cleaning Practices

two people wearing a mask and gloves shaking hands

Even with the strictest cleaning protocols and staff training in place, maintaining consistent cleanliness requires ongoing monitoring and evaluation.

Quality control in hospitals is a shared responsibility involving infection control teams, healthcare professionals (doctors, nurses, surgeons, etc), hospital administrators and management, external auditors, and other stakeholders.

Each is crucial in upholding the highest standards of hygiene and health, creating a collective effort to ensure a safe and healthy environment for everyone within the hospital walls.

Conclusion On How To Improve Cleanliness In Hospitals

Hospital cleanliness and hygiene require a multifaceted approach. It goes beyond proper hand hygiene. 

Regulatory bodies, management, hospital staff, infection control teams — all are crucial in reducing the risk of hospital-acquired infections and fostering a healthy, and hygienic environment for patients and staff.

Disclaimer: These strategies are merely meant to serve as a guide and should not be taken as a substitute for professional advice or existing hospital protocols. It’s essential to consult with relevant experts and authorities to develop a comprehensive and tailored cleaning program that meets your specific needs and regulatory requirements.

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