Hospital cleaning strategies focus on obviously “dirty” areas, and as a result are missing the key sources of MRSA infection, it has been claimed.
Dr Stephanie Dancer, from Southern General Hospital in Glasgow, UK, said cleaning should be centred around “hand-touch” sites in wards, such as door handles, bed rails, and switches, pumps and other equipment surrounding patients.
She said that evidence suggested these areas were the places most likely to harbour the antibiotic-resistant MRSA pathogen, yet they are generally poorly cleaned.
She wrote in The Lancet Infectious Diseases: “The responsibility for cleaning many hand-touch sites usually rests with the ward nurses, who are often very busy and almost permanently understaffed in many hospitals.”
She said hospital hygiene was usually assessed visually, and that ward cleaners worked to a set of rules that prioritised cleaning of floors and toilets, while scant regard was paid to the hidden dangers of invisible micro-organisms.
Responding to the study, Government chief nursing officer Professor Christine Beasley said: “Infection control is a complex problem that needs a range of solutions and the fact is there is no single remedy.
“However, we know that as part of a wider set of measures, proper cleaning is an important tool in tackling infections. That’s why we have mandated that deep cleans should take place in all hospitals.”
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