Surgery

How Clean is Your Scalpel?

When you visit your doctor, dentist, or health care specialist you trust that they adhere to the required health standards.

When they pick up the scalpel, forceps, or tooth pick you trust that their equipment has been cleaned and sterilised. Imagine if this wasn't the case!

Clinic Shut Down by Queensland Health

Late last year, the Qld Health Department shut down a popular dental practice in Carina. This was due to inadequate infection control standards at the clinic. Patients of this clinic have been asked to see their doctor for testing of blood borne diseases like Hepatitis C.

While this incident is not common, it has happened before. In 2015 there were several dentists shut down in NSW due to inadequate hygiene and sterilisation of equipment. Hundreds of patients were required to be tested for blood borne diseases including HIV.

What Standards Exist for Cleaning?

There are Australian Standards (AS/NZS 4801:2001 & AS 4187:2014) that clearly outline what is required for a medical facility. These standards ensure that equipment and surfaces are cleaned effectively.

Also, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US has created a two-tier system. This allows the choice of the best method for the immediate needs of an institution. It also offers a clear path to develop a comprehensive environmental monitoring program.

Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC)

The Tier 1 Plan includes Education and Competency. It has been shown that positive, supportive education and regular competency evaluations can result in improved cleansing of surfaces. Such education should include efforts to monitor cleaning and disinfection practices. The CDC Guidance on MDROs in healthcare settings states the following:

Intensify and reinforce training of environmental staff who work in areas targeted for intensified MDRO control and monitor adherence to environmental cleaning policies. Some facilities may choose to assign dedicated staff to targeted patient care areas to enhance consistency of proper environmental cleaning and disinfection services.

Hiring a Cleaning Contractor

Clinics, medical facilities, and hospitals must hire cleaning contractors that adhere to strict guidelines and offer ongoing training and monitoring of their staff. A cleaning contractor providing this level of service should be able to supply an OHS Management System confirming their Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), cleaning standards they adhere to, risk mitigation measures, training, audits, and inspections. If they cannot supply this, then there is no guarantee they can give the level of service you require.

Solutions 4 Cleaning (S4C) can effectively supply this level of service for the cleaning of medical facilities throughout South East Queensland. We strictly adhere to the Australian Standards and implement our clean trace monitoring process (Tier 1) for all our customers as a minimum. We supply extensive training in the S4C SOP to our staff and all work is closely monitored.

The below is an extract of the S4C Cleaning Medical Facilities procedure:

Reusable Medical Device (RMD) can contact a patient's sterile tissues, mucous membranes, or skin, or it might be used in a non-critical area around a patient without patient contact.

There is a potential for an RMD to become contaminated with micro-organisms, blood, tissue, and other biological material. (AS4187)

Handling process:

  1. Cleaning
  2. Disinfecting
  3. Inspection and assembly
  4. Testing
  5. Packaging and sterilisation

Appropriate validation and control of cleaning, disinfecting, packaging, and sterilising processes reduces the risk of transmission of infectious agents associated with the use of RMD's.

Equipment and Chemicals

It is very important that any cleaning contractor uses the right equipment and chemicals to ensure the safe cleaning of the facility.

Reusing the same cloth on various surfaces will guarantee cross-contamination. Colour coded cloths will prevent this from occurring. A dedicated vacuum and sterilised mop are also essential.

A good quality hospital grade disinfectant is necessary to ensure surfaces are cleaned effectively. S4C use GFS Bio-Protect Hospital Grade disinfectant. This product is different from other sanitises as it kills pathogens through physical rather than chemical means. This occurs when the germ cells are pierced and killed instantly. It protects humans against those 'super bugs' such as MRSA (Golden Staph) and Norovirus. The use of bleach or other toxic cleaners can promote and develop 'super bugs'.

Consequences

If you are a medical facility, clinic, or hospital you need to review your cleaning contractor right now. Ask them to give to you proof of their experience, copies of their OHS Management System, a list of equipment and chemicals that they use. If they cannot supply this then you should be looking for another cleaning company.

If you continue to use an inexperienced and ineffective cleaning contractor the consequence to your business can be catastrophic to you and your patients. Make sure your patients can trust you.

David Kelly

Owner

Solutions 4 Cleaning

www.solutions4cleaning.com.au