With the danger of Healthcare Acquired Infections (HAIs) ever present in hospitals and healthcare facilities, industry professionals need to be trained and equipped to combat the risk. James Taylor, director of product marketing at Chicopee, the leading brand of professional cleaning wipes materials, looks at how thorough training, rigorous cleaning protocols and practical solutions can combat the threat of infection in healthcare premises.
HAIs tend to only come to public notice when an epidemic occurs, but the reality is that they are the most frequent adverse event in healthcare delivery. It is more so in developing countries, but still affects an average of 7.1 percent of all patients across Europe, equating to a total of four million cases every year1.
It is estimated that at least 20 percent of these cases would be preventable with better cleaning regimes2. The effective intervention of healthcare cleaning professionals is therefore vital, with the first priority being to deliver comprehensive training and the second to equip them with the best materials to use.
HAIs are a huge drain on the resources of the NHS. They take up thousands of days worth of extended patient stays and the financial cost runs into billions of pounds every year3. Informing cleaning staff that their role is fundamental in preventing HAIs is crucial both in terms of framing good practice and in motivating staff to do a complete and thorough job of cleaning hospitals. The most important step to ensure they can do this is to give them the right cleaning tools to do the job.
Traditional laundered cloths tend to retain bacteria after washing that could trigger HAIs; a study published by the American Journal of Infection Control revealed that 93 percent of these cloths contained such bacteria4. Short term Microfibre technology is the new, effective way to combat the problem. Microfibre wipes and cloths physically remove bacteria and microbes from the surface rather than just killing them. In fact, spores like Clostridium difficile (C.diff) are practically immune to most cleaners, so removal is a better option than attempted eradication. The NHS National Patient Safety Agency’s (NPSA) ‘Revised Healthcare Cleaning Manual’5 hails Microfibre as the number one cleaner of choice.
Not all Microfibre products have the same effectiveness, however. To ensure the best results, Microfibre cloths must be made from high grade 100 percent Microfibre. To this end, Chicopee has developed a cleaning cloth that is custom made for healthcare use.
Microfibre Light is manufactured with patented APEX® technology, creating fibres that are 80 percent finer than standard Microfibres. This is achieved using a new process that employs a high-pressure water system to split individual fibres, thereby improving the effective surface area. The patented APEX technology then gives the cloth a bulky 3D structure whilst keeping the weight of the wipe low enough for it to be disposable after use.
The material acts like a magnet: the positively charged fibres attract negatively charged dirt, dust and bacteria. Consequently, Microfibre Light traps dirt, dust and bacteria until it is rinsed. External certification has confirmed that Microfibre Light cloths remove 99.99 percent of bacteria from surfaces, transferring zero percent to a second surface6.
As Microfibre Light is designed for short-term use, it also removes the need to launder the cloth, which removes the cost of using an external laundry contactor and also cuts the risk of cross-contamination.
The NPSA Cleaning Manual5 recommends specific practices for use of the cloths: they are to be turned and folded regularly, so as to expose a new surface area and one cloth is only to be allocated to the cleaning of half a six-bed patient bay.
Chicopee supplies detailed visual instructions showing correct use and disposal, as well as providing colour coding in line with HACCP standards.
Everyone in healthcare needs the cleaner, healthier environment that good cleaning practices and products, can provide. Even a small ten percent reduction in HAIs could save many lives, as well as reducing expenditure by as much as £120 million per year6.