Technological advancements make healthcare equipment small and mobile: crash carts, mobile blood pressure monitors, rolling ultrasound machines, even CT machines as tall as a person but deliverable to the emergency department in minutes. Mobile diagnostic and imaging tools allow providers to treat more patients at the bedside, meaning better patient outcomes.
The natural side effect of interacting with more patients, of course, is more risk for contamination being transferred from patient to patient. Most hospitals document policies for between-patient cleanings as well as routine daily cleanings of this mobile equipment to minimize risk. But are we in compliance with those policies?
A recent study conducted by researchers in Ohio revealed that perhaps these cleaning policies aren’t strictly followed. In the study, shared equipment in a hospital surgical intensive care unit (SICU) and medical ICU (MICU) were dabbed with a DNA marker marker to simulate pathogens that might spread. The DNA, though harmless, behaves like a pathogen and can spread and detected until surfaces are properly cleaned. Researchers essentially “traced” the travel of the mock pathogen.
Within only six (6!) days, the mock pathogens had spread throughout the SICU and MICU and were recovered from high touch surfaces including “bed rails, bedside table, call button, infusion pumps, door handles, ventilator controls, light switches, and computer keyboards”, and shared work surfaces such as computers and phones. The DNA appeared even on mobile equipment not initially contaminated – wheelchairs included.
The most alarming finding was that some equipment appeared not to have been cleaned at all for a two-day stretch, based on fluorescent markers only visible under blacklight. By day six, the MICU had been well cleaned and no tracer DNA remained, but in the SICU, 30% of surfaces were still positive for the DNA!
We need better mobile equipment disinfection. Fortunately for hospitals, even large mobile equipment can be disinfected in a LightStrike Disinfection Pod from Xenex. Powered by the intensity of LightStrike’s pulsed xenon UV-C and facilitated by reflective aluminized fabric from Mintie, the Pod allows for 360-degree disinfection in only 5 minutes, killing C.diff, VRE, and MRSA with full-spectrum germicidal light.
And the best part? It’s mobile, too. So you can chase down those hitchhiker pathogens anywhere in your facility.
We applaud the researchers at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio: Amrita John, MBBS; Heba Alhmidi, MD; Jennifer L. Cadnum, BS; Annette L. Jencson, BS, CIC; and Curtis J. Donskey, MD.
Written by Rachael Sparks