Virox Insights Blog

How would you rate your stethoscope hygiene?

Posted by Olivia Lattimore on Thu, Aug 17, 2017 @ 04:18 PM

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Would you eat your dinner without washing your hands after using the restroom? My guess is probably NOT. We accept the important role hand hygiene plays not only in our personal lives but in the lives of our patients. In fact, next time you visit a family member or friend in the hospital count how many hand hygiene stations are present. Hand hygiene has been the focus of infection prevention education for quite some time now. With campaigns like “Clean Hands Save Lives” we are seeing more and more compliance with hand hygiene programs. BUT, have you ever considered stethoscope hygiene compliance within your facility?

Microbiological data have shown that stethoscope contamination after a single exam is comparable to that of a physician’s dominant hand. To put that into perspective, total bacterial counts on the hands of medical personnel have ranged from 3.9 x 104 to 4.6 x 106. That’s up to 4,600,000 pathogens that could contaminate a single stethoscope! Common pathogens cultured from stethoscopes include Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Clostridium difficile, and VRE. Did you know that for S. aureus an infectious dose is only 100,000 organisms? Even scarier, the microbe infectious dose is unknown for P. aeruginosa, C. difficile, and VRE highlighting the importance of preventative measures.

A new study in the American Journal of Infection Control looked at the impact that education, reminder flyers, and the provision of cleaning supplies had on stethoscope hygiene. At the end of the program, the results indicated that there was NO change in stethoscope disinfection compliance and hygiene remained at ZERO. Are these results surprising? Not really when you consider all the research that has looked at cleaning and disinfection protocol compliance. Take the study by Havill and Boyce for example on “Cleanliness of portable medical equipment disinfected by nursing staff”. In this study ATP (adenosine triphosphate bioluminescence) and aerobic cultures were used to assess the cleanliness of portable medical equipment disinfected by nurses between each patients use. It was discovered that the equipment was not being disinfected as per protocol and that education and feedback are an essential element to improving disinfection. There is a plethora of research that supports this same conclusion that education, monitoring, and feedback play an imperative role in improving disinfection compliance. Two more powerful examples come from Drs. Alfa and Boyce. In a study by Alfa et al, housekeeping staff were provided an effective Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide® (AHP®) based disinfectant which was combined with proper training, education, compliance monitoring and feedback. The study resulted in a 20% reduction of HAIs including MRSA, VRE, and C. difficile. In a similar study by Boyce et al, the use of AHP®, education, and compliance monitoring resulted in a 23% reduction of HAIs! While this research has been primarily targeted towards the decontamination of environmental surfaces, it can certainly be extrapolated to patient care equipment such as stethoscopes.

It is evident that this study highlights not only the risk stethoscope hygiene incompliance has in healthcare facilities, but it reveals an overlooked infection control issue and how rarely stethoscope hygiene is done. Providing standard education may not have been the answer in increasing disinfection compliance in this particular study, but perhaps a more holistic approach is required that includes education, compliance monitoring and providing feedback to staff. Because how can anyone improve if they aren’t being properly trained or given guidance on ways to improve? Get started on your education, training, compliance monitoring and feedback program today using our Stethoscope Disinfection Protocol!  And for more resources on the effects of compliance monitoring download these Disinfectant Digests!

 

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Insightfully yours,

Olivia Lattimore

 

 

 

                        

Topics: Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide, AHP, disinfectant, infection prevention, biosecurity, clean hands, hand hygiene, hygiene, infection control, safety, stethoscope disinfection protocol, stethoscope hygiene, healthcare facilities

Infection Prevention....Spreading the Word

Posted by Olivia Lattimore on Thu, Aug 10, 2017 @ 02:47 PM

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Picture this. A two year old boy faints from not eating in two days. A 12 year old girl is sold by her family to be a child bride just so they can feed the rest of the family for a week. A young child can’t attend school because he can’t afford shoes. This is what I witnessed first hand in Zambia, Africa 8 years ago. I spent 2 months travelling to a number of different rescue units for orphans affected by AIDS. As you can imagine, my perspective of life back in Canada dramatically changed. The things I so often took for granted or complained about seemed so miniscule compared to the hardships people living in third world countries have to face on a daily basis. It really hit me when I got into a minor motorcycle accident while in Zambia. Being 6 hours away from the nearest medical clinic, I was lucky that I only got a couple bumps and bruises and was not seriously injured in the crash. It was in this moment, that I realized how lucky I truly was to have available healthcare back home. Working in the infection prevention industry for 3 years now, I have also come to realize how lucky we are to have advanced infection prevention knowledge compared to other countries around the world. With endless resources, education, and research we are constantly working towards change to better the health of our patients. There are however, many countries around the world where there is very littleZambia 3 (002).jpg opportunity to learn about infection prevention. This lack of opportunity results in knowledge gaps, illness and death that are completely preventable. Take Ebola for example.  Thousands of lives in West Africa were claimed as a result of ineffective infection control measures. A lack of proper PPE, isolation precautions, clean water for hand hygiene, and cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces greatly contributed to the spread of Ebola. This spread resulted in a staggering number of healthcare worker Ebola associated deaths. In fact, 10% all Ebola deaths were Healthcare workers. So how did this devastating outbreak finally get contained? Simple. Education. In 2014 there was a massive effort to educate and train healthcare workers to properly handle patients infected with Ebola. But why did thousands of preventable deaths have to happen before effective training and education became available? The obvious answer is that the resources were simply unattainable.

Fortunately, the path is being paved to make infection prevention education more readily accessible. The Infection Control Africa Network, Stellenbosch University (Cape Town), and Webber Training created Teleclass Education Africa to provide basic infection control education to African healthcare workers. It is the ONLY initiative to provide such education. Teleclass Education brings lectures on infection prevention and control topics by the world’s top authorities on the subjects to a global healthcare, academic, and regulatory audience. The end goal is to ultimately prevent another crisis such as Ebola before it begins. As a non-for-profit organization, Webber Training is raising funds to support this critical initiative.

At Virox Technologies, we are passionate about providing accessible education to the infection control community. More than 5 years ago Virox introduced a bursary at the bi-annual Infection Control Africa Network Congress conference to sponsor African scientists to present abstracts on infection control projects specifically on the topics of disinfectants and disinfection or sterilization systems. We see the value in the education and information provided by Webber Training and are a proud sponsor of this essential resource. To continue the momentum in Africa we have made a special contribution to Teleclass Education Africa. If you wish to learn more about this important resource for the African healthcare community, or if you wish to make a contribution you can visit their Go Fund Me page.  Together we can all make a difference.

 

Insightfully yours,

Olivia Lattimore

 

Infection Control Africa Network

                        

Topics: Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide, AHP, disinfectant, infection prevention, education, Webber Teleclasses, Webber Training, biosecurity, infection control, safety, Teleclass Education Africa

Does your disinfectant suffer from Safety Indifference Syndrome?

Posted by Olivia Lattimore on Fri, Jul 14, 2017 @ 12:03 PM

 

 

 

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We know that chemical disinfectants are widely used in infection prevention, as such, our reliance on them is imperative. When choosing a disinfectant, it seems the focus revolves around what the disinfectant kills and costs, forgetting about other criteria such as the level of safety a disinfectant offers. Research has indicated that disinfectant products have the potential to contribute to respiratory hazards including the onset of asthma or exacerbation of existing asthma. Additionally, disinfectants have been associated with acute illness reports among workers, primarily affecting the eyes and skin. A 2010 report by the CDC highlighted that the most common active ingredients responsible for illnesses were Quaternary ammonium compounds (38%), glutaraldehyde (25%), and sodium hypochlorite (18%). The majority of the types of injuries associated with the use of disinfectants were: 222 eye injuries, 130 neurologic injuries (headaches), and 121 respiratory injuries. These occupational human health hazards not only have negative physical implications, but also negative economic impacts both directly and indirectly. And did you know that it has been shown that disinfectants which are perceived as toxic by staff are less likely to be used correctly, reducing user compliance and increasing the risk of pathogen transmission? 

Employers have a legal responsibility to provide a safe working environment for staff and patients which includes choosing disinfectants that are not going to cause harm to staff or patients. Choosing an effective disinfectant with the best safety profile will not only prevent the transmission of harmful pathogens but will aid in the prevention of workplace incidents. Unfortunately, most disinfectants have to compromise between safety and efficacy with the focus being more on what the product can kill. This compromise is often made as it is a common belief that due to their toxicity to microorganisms, disinfectants are also toxic to human health resulting in user apprehension and decreased compliance.

So how do you identify the safety profile of a disinfectant? The best way to know is by reading the products Safety Data Sheet (SDS), which is a summary document that provides information about the hazards of a product and advice about safety precautions. On the SDS, sections 2 and 11 should be reviewed to identify product hazards and toxicological data. Pay special attention to section 2 which is an overview of the disinfectants hazards identification. This section will tell you the GHS classification, signal words, hazard pictograms and precautionary statements. Ideally, you want your disinfectant to not be classified by GHS and have no hazard pictograms or hazard statements. Furthermore, section 11 will provide you the toxicity results of the disinfectant. All disinfectant manufacturers must have their products tested for oral, dermal, and inhalation toxicity by a third party laboratory. These results ultimately determine the content that’s required in section 2.

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Is it possible to have a disinfectant that is both effective and safe? Do you need to compromise one for the other? The answer is NO! Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide® (AHP®) based disinfectants are based on chemical synergies. What this means is that instead of adding more chemicals to make our disinfectants more effective against germs, we play with the formula until we get a new synergy. This results in enhanced formulas that offer a faster, and better efficacy without compromising user safety. AHP® is designed to be non-toxic, non-irritating, and non-sensitizing. At the in-use dilution, AHP® is not classified under GHS, has no associated hazard pictograms, and no hazard statements. Furthermore, AHP® does not utilize any ingredients that are carcinogenic, mutagenic, or have reproductive toxicity, giving user’s confidence that they won’t be harmed by their disinfectant if used according to the label directions.

So why compromise when you don’t have to? Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide® (AHP®) based disinfectants have accomplished the balance between safety and efficacy like no other. I hope this will lead you to evaluate your current disinfectant choice within your facility and review with your team the pros and cons. Download our Safety Checklist to evaluate your disinfectant today!

 

 

 

Insightfully yours,

Olivia Lattimore

                       

 

 


 

Topics: Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide, AHP, disinfectant, compliance, infection prevention, SDS, biosecurity, infection control, safety, occupational hazards, OSHA

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  • Insights--Blog.jpgOlivia is a passionate member of the Professional and Technical Services (PTS) team and is dedicated to educating readers on the importance of Infection Prevention and Control..