Archive August 2017 XVIII, No. 8

5 Strategies for Whole-Room Disinfection

When time and resources are limited, efficiency is the key.

Jim Burger

Jim Burger, Senior Editor


disinfecting rooms SPORES ILLUMINATED Disinfecting rooms that have been exposed to Clostridium difficile is the top priority for the Lehigh Valley (Pa.) Health Network.

If it were up to her staff, they'd unleash a whole-room-disinfection robot in every room after every case. "But unfortunately, we don't have that luxury," says Terry Burger, MBA, BSN, RN, NE-BC, CIC, FAPIC, who oversees infection control and prevention for the 7-hospital Lehigh Valley (Pa.) Health Network. "We don't have enough machines or enough time in the day."

You'd like to be able to make sure every square inch of your facility is disinfected and pathogen-free. But as adjuncts to standard cleaning regimens, even the newest technologies need time, space and planning to work their magic. We talked to several healthcare pros about the strategies they use to get the biggest bang they can for the significant number of bucks they've invested in whole-room disinfection systems.

1. Identify the biggest risks. Ms. Burger says it starts with risk stratification. "We asked ourselves where our greatest challenges were," she says. "Everybody will tell you it's Clostridium difficile. So our machines are deployed first and foremost whenever a patient has been identified with C. diff. As soon as they're discharged, we terminally clean, then we use the machine."

Fighting back against notoriously stubborn C. diff spores is also the No. 1 priority at the University of Vermont Medical Center, says Manager of Infection Prevention Carolyn Terhune, MT (ASCP), CIC. "Our primary use is in our isolation rooms and we prioritize those rooms based on risk," says Ms. Terhune. "C. diff is the first priority. If we can get to other contact isolation rooms, we get to those as well."

At the Elmhurst (Ill.) Hospital, robots follow the trails of patients who've been infected with any of the common drug-resistant organisms, says Infection Control Manager Annemarie Schmocker, BSN, RN, CIC, whether that trail leads to the OR, the cath lab or some other procedure room. "We try to schedule those cases at the end of the day, because then we take the room down," says Ms. Schmocker. "It takes a lot of coordination."

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