New Report Addresses Cleaning to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections

Environmental cleaning to prevent healthcare-associated infections and future research needs in this area are the focus of a new report, “Environmental Cleaning for the Prevention of Healthcare-Associated Infections.”

healthcare-associated infections
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The report, from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ) Effective Health Care Program, includes a total of 80 studies covering cleaning practices such as use of chemical agents and self-disinfecting surfaces; monitoring strategies such as assays and ultraviolet light; challenges to implementation; and nonrandomized concurrent or historical controls. While many diseases and pathogens are found in hospitals, the report focuses on evidence for strategies that may prevent transmission of C. difficile, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE). The report lists these as three of the most common pathogens causing healthcare-associated infections and for which there is significant evidence of surface contamination.

According to the report, many methods are available for cleaning, disinfecting, and monitoring the cleanliness of hard surfaces in hospitals, but studies of the comparative effectiveness of these interventions are limited. The authors conclude that future research should examine and compare cleaning strategies such as peracetic acid and hydrogen peroxide wipes and monitoring strategies such as ultraviolet light technologies.

The report also calls for the development of standard thresholds for defining cleanliness and the identification of surfaces posing the greatest risk of pathogen transmission.

AHRQ is an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services that is charged with improving the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of healthcare in the U.S. Its Effective Health Care Program funds individual researchers, research centers, and academic organizations to collaborate with AHRQ to produce effectiveness and comparative effectiveness research for clinicians, consumers, and policymakers.