Archive November 2015 XVI, No. 11

Are You Making These Surface-Cleaning Mistakes?

Here are 13 areas your turnover team may be glossing over.

Amy Hughes, BSN, CIC


wipe down high-touch surface ONCE IS NOT ENOUGH High-touch items should be wiped down several times a day, and make sure adequate kill time is provided.

Are your high-touch surfaces clean? I mean thoroughly disinfected? Even though we assume that our ORs will be sterile, surfaces are rarely cleaned, especially between cases. The likely culprits are turnover pressures and inadequately trained environmental services staff. Is your team making these 13 common surface cleaning mistakes?

Not leaving surfaces as wet as they should be for as long as they should be. Most disinfectants used to have 10-minute kill times — and really, nobody could afford that kind of time unless they were doing terminal cleaning. Now, most products have 2- or 3-minute kill times. Everyone feels the pressure to turn rooms over quickly, but 2 or 3 minutes shouldn't be that big of a deal.

Failing to clean high-touch items. Bed rails, light switches, toilet handles, faucets, IV poles — these could all benefit from being wiped down about 6 times a day. They're all big transmission points, especially for Clostridium difficile patients.

Glossing over items that get moved from patient to patient. Too often people just give a cursory wipe when they're dealing with a large vital signs monitor or an Accu-Chek machine. But even healthy patients have organisms on their skin, and they may have resistant organisms that shouldn't be passed around. The next patient might be more immune-compromised and more susceptible.

Using one small cloth on a large surface. When staff do this, they can end up just moving bacteria around. Use as many wipes as are needed.

Failing to clean computers. Tell staff to use wet wipes on the keyboard and mouse every time a new nurse comes on duty. That way you know they're getting cleaned several times a day.

Not using covers on keyboards. Keyboards may not be as responsive as you'd like with covers. But manufacturers are making progress. Recently, we've seen the introduction of sealed keyboards that are easier to clean and less likely to be ruined by moisture.

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