hospital sanitationEnvironmental cleaning and sterilization are vital components in ensuring that infections are not spread, due to lingering germs in hospitals. Areas like tables, bed rails, light switches and even toilets require sterilization – yet, the amount of data regarding the effectiveness of such practices has been lacking over the past few years. According to a review of a collection of studies, hospital cleaning and sterilization practices are inconsistent, with data on the proper way to sterilize being limited.

A study conducted in September, 2015 reviewed over 80 different studies – 49 of which were dedicated to hospital cleaning methods, 14 that evaluated monitoring strategies, and 17 that reviewed the implementation of cleaning challenges. Out of those 80+ studies, only five were randomized for controls. Overall, the study concluded that there was a general lack of focus on disinfection methods and very limited information on monitoring strategies employed by hospitals.

The Issue

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately one out of 25 inpatients in the United States every day will be affected by a hospital associated infection (HAI). Also, an alarming 75,000 Americans die each year from those HAIs. But, there is little research that has been performed to assess the role of environmental factors and how sterilization (or lack thereof) contributes to such infections.

There has been a growing interest in the role of cleaning, due to a range of new cleaning technologies released to hospitals. This includes the use of ultraviolet (UV) light and hydrogen peroxide vapors. With the recent Ebola outbreaks, there has been a continued growing interest in technologies that promote faster, more efficient cleaning.

After the study researched all available scientific data on cleaning, sterilization, disinfection and monitoring, the group focused on high-touch areas within a hospital. These include intravenous poles, tray tables, call buttons and other surfaces. They focused on three main agents, which included:

  1. The agents and methods used to clean these surfaces;
  2. How the effectiveness of those cleaning methods were monitored; and
  3. If there were system-level factors used to facilitate better cleaning in the future.

Newer technologies, such as UV lights and hydrogen peroxide vapors, are showing promising results, while studies on bleach and other chemical disinfectants has been mixed. Until randomized and controlled studies are performed, however, hospitals may never know which disinfecting and sterilization procedures truly work.

Did You Suffer from an HAI?

Hospitals are required to maintain a sanitary environment. If you acquired an infection or were injured due to a postoperative infection, you could be entitled to compensation for your additional injuries, medical costs and pain and suffering. Contact the expert attorneys at Berkowitz and Hanna LLC today to schedule a no-obligation case evaluation. Call (203) 487-5716 or contact us online to get started.