Outside of the daily struggle to heal patients, medical facilities are facing one of their hardest struggles yet: keeping their facilities safe from the dangers of antibiotic resistant bacteria. With patients now coming in contact with these so-called "super bugs" in their daily lives and bringing them into hospitals and care facilities with them, medical facilities like yours are losing the battle. However, there are advances in understanding and available technology that can help you and your staff to keep fighting back against antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Soft Surfaces Are the Real Transmitters
One of the most important realizations in the battle against super bugs is that your patients are being exposed to them through contact with soft surfaces. As much as 90% of a patient's care environment can be made of soft surfaces, and these will often come in contact with contaminants without receiving any kind of sanitation. Your new sanitation efforts and protocols need to take this knowledge into account: soft surfaces (especially those which are mobile) need to be sanitized with the same care as hands and hard surfaces.
Your staff is already highly trained to avoid spreading contaminants through their hands. They wash and sanitize them regularly. However, they do not use the same precautions with the garments they wear, and it's a huge part of the problem. Your staff, and more specifically their scrubs, will come in contact with antibiotic resistant bacteria throughout the day, and they will inevitably touch their clothing as the day progresses. Their scrubs quickly become contaminated as their shift passes, and by the end of the day, their scrubs can be as contaminated as an unwashed lab coat. This is unacceptable in any facility that is devoted to stopping the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Fortunately, the healthcare linen industry is developing more viable solutions than having staff change their uniforms frequently throughout the day. For now, your best and most viable option for ensuring the sanitation of your soft surfaces is to hire a professional healthcare linen laundry service to sanitize and replace linens throughout your facility. In the future, you may be able to partner with a medical laundry service to use new fabrics that have been imbedded with antimicrobial agents and fluid repellency, which keeps bacteria from being able to adhere to fabric. Each of these technologies still has quite a way to go before it will be viable within a healthcare setting, but the results have been promising.