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What are some good measurable ways to determine if your infection control program is effective? - Process Cleaning for Healthy Facilities™
Healthy Facilities™

What are some good measurable ways to determine if your infection control program is effective?

By Dr. Benjamin Tanner

QUESTION

What are some good measurable ways to determine if your infection control program is effective?

 

ANSWER

There are many ways to determine Infection Control (IC) program effectiveness, all with pros and cons:

 

Collect data on school absenteeism rates as a proxy for illness rates, both before and after implementation of the program (PRO: focuses on the endpoint we all care about, prevention of disease; CON: Data may not be kept or readily available for use.)

 

Do "press plates" or "dip slides" for bacteria at regular intervals. The goal should be to continually drive counts down as much as possible, and attention should be paid when "spikes" are seen (PRO: data very reliable if a good, neutralizing agar is used; CON: Biohazardous waste is generated in the process and it can be expensive at about $10/plate.)

 

Do ATP swab sampling at more frequent intervals (PRO: reasonably inexpensive and good indication of "cleanliness" or soil removal; CON: ATP not well associated with presence of bacteria in objective studies.)

 

Also, according to the Cleaning Industry Research Institute (CIRI): "The Carling method, wherein specific surfaces (e.g., touch points) proposed to be cleaned are targeted with invisible fluorescent marks prior to the cleaning crew entering the area, and are then checked after cleaning (for removal) using a black light, may help to determine which spots are missed during cleaning. This training and inspection tool has helped many healthcare crews improve their cleaning/sanitizing/disinfection programs."

 

[Carling PC, Von Beheren S, Kim P, Woods C; Healthcare Environmental Hygiene Study Group. Intensive care unit environmental cleaning; an evaluation in sixteen hospitals using a novel assessment tool. J Hosp Infect. 200 Jan;68(1):39-44.]

 

ATP is also useful in signaling soil overload in tools, cloths, etc. An overloaded towel would probably still remove fluorescent markings yet spread organic soils. 

 

Another component for a healthcare facility, could include integration/cooperation of environmental services and infection control departments.

About Dr. Benjamin Tanner

Dr. Benjamin Tanner holds a B.S. in Molecular Biology and a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Arizona, where he studied environmentally mediated disease transmission and assessed infection risks for workers. Dr. Tanner is the founder and principal of Antimicrobial Test Laboratories, LLC, a microbiology laboratory that specializes in testing and development of disinfectant chemicals and other antimicrobial technologies.