Who is Responsible?
Designate an individual who is primarily responsible for cleaning and disinfecting
environmental surfaces and medical equipment. During hours of operation, it may be one
designated staffer who regularly cleans or replaces high-traffic and patient-facing surfaces,
such as doorknobs, faucets, waiting rooms, toys, check-in pens, counters and even the sides of
patient tables/beds where they may place their hands for leverage in standing up. After hours,
it may be outside contractors. Regardless, they must be trained and regularly reminded.
Which Cleaning Products?
A wide range of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - registered infection control
cleaning products are available, specifically for use in healthcare facilities to break the cycle
of germ transmission. In choosing which products are appropriate for your office, the main
criteria are often cost, safety, product-surface compatibility and employee compliance.
Choices typically include ready-to-use (RTU) sprays or wipes.
For intermediate-level disinfection areas, bleach-based or hydrogen peroxide-based
disinfectant wipes or sprays are effective against a wide range of microorganisms. Low-level
disinfection areas – with hard, nonporous surfaces – are lower-risk areas for spreading
infections and can be cleaned with a gentler, quaternary disinfectant cleaner. Check OSHA
guidelines for specific recommendations, and closely follow the manufacturers' instructions
for product use – paying special attention to the recommended dwell times required to kill
How Often Should Cleaning Occur?
While it is important to be diligent and consistent in your surface cleaning regimen, the
frequency of cleaning will vary depending on the type of items and their location.
Patient rooms and other intermediate-level disinfection areas, where the most interaction
with patients and others occur, must be disinfected more often than low-level disinfection
areas. The former – which would include patient-care areas, medication prep rooms and
bathrooms – should be cleaned at least once each day; of course, if an area is particularly
busy, known to have had direct contact with blood, diarrhea or vomit, or is visibly soiled, it
should be cleaned after the patient has used it. The latter – which would include low-risk
items like waiting room tables or computer keyboards – may be cleaned less frequently than
daily unless it is known to be contaminated.
Regardless of the type of cleaning/disinfection being done, the staff member conducting the cleaning must take adequate safety precautions. That may include wearing gloves and/or surgical masks or procedural masks depending on the product being used and the area being cleaned; check the cleaning products' label for specific instructions.
Spend Money to Save Money
While accelerating the frequency and thoroughness of environmental surface disinfection in
doctors' offices may result in added expenses for proper cleaning products and supplies, those
costs are surely not as daunting as the financial burden that a facility incurs when an outbreak
occurs. For example, a serious outbreak of a highly-contagious disease can lead to increased
costs, staffing shortages, and reduced revenues at the impacted facility.
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