Research for infection protection

Disinfecting near-patient surfaces for enhanced infection prevention

Most nosocomial pathogens are able to persist on inanimate surfaces for months. Particularly near patients, where frequent hand and skin contact occurs, there may be a risk of infection. For this reason, disinfection of near-patient surfaces is an integral part of infection control. A recent review [1] shows what needs to be considered.


Bacterial load on near-patient surfaces

Near-patient surfaces, for example bedside tables, bedframes or infusion stands, are an important reservoir for nosocomial pathogens. Hence, typical hospital germs such as Clostridium difficile, MRSA, VRE or Acinetobacter baumannii are often found in the patients’ immediate surroundings. But also surfaces near non-infected patients may be contaminated. The pathogens stem from, for example, previous occupants that had been infected and colonised, respectively, or unknown carriers among medical personnel or visitors.

Surface disinfection for preventing infection

From contaminated surfaces, the microorganisms may be transmitted to the hands or skin of employees. Effective disinfection of near-patient surfaces may reduce the rate of incident cases significantly.


What you should consider when disinfecting near-patient surfaces:

  • Disinfect near-patient surfaces routinely.
  • Microbiological activity: use surface disinfectants that possess an active ingredient attuned to the risk potential (bactericidal/virucidal).
  • Wetting: make sure to completely cover the surface to be disinfected with the disinfectant.
  • Wipe material: use fleece fibres that do not adsorb active ingredients.
  • When using wipes dispenser systems: to prevent recontamination after re-filling, always reprocess dispenser systems for surface disinfection wipes properly.
  • Disinfect portable electronic equipment such as smartphones with an effective surface disinfectant that has a low alcohol content. Observe the manufacturer’s information on material compatibility.


Reuse of disinfected surfaces

For all routine surface disinfection procedures, the treated surfaces can be used again as soon as it is visibly dry. Exception: Wait for the entire exposure time, in case special pathogens such as C. difficile or multi-resistant bacteria occur.


Source:
1. Kampf G (2013) Flächendesinfektion. Krankenhaushygiene up2date 2013; 8: 273-288.


Please click here to read the surface disinfection review including additional practical tips.

Examples of risk surfaces with frequent hand and skin contact:

  • Near-patient surfaces: infusion stands, wet areas, monitors, medical devices, work surfaces used for aseptic activities, bedframes, bedside tables, trays, patient stretchers.
  • Other surfaces in the hospital: shelves, doorknobs, light switches, handrails, operating elements of vending machines.
Disinfecting near-patient surfaces