In the healthcare setting, disinfection and sanitization is a must. In fact, a clean, disinfected environment may be the most important aspect of the industry. If patients consistently contract disease during their stay at a facility, that place will quickly lose trust and credibility. In a race to prevent healthcare acquired infections, infection control specialists enlist the help of many different chemical cleaners and disinfectants. In some cases, maybe too many chemicals.
In an effort to sell more products and chemicals, some companies may recommend a separate disinfectant or sanitizer for different applications. For instance, there may be a disinfectant responsible for hard, non-critical surfaces, a disinfectant for medical instruments, a sanitizer for drawer and door handles, as well as a disinfectant for floor decontamination. Many times these products contain the same active ingredient that is responsible for the products’ antimicrobial properties. By creating a different name, as well as a different purpose, they create an unnecessary demand for their products.
Why You Should Limit the Number of Products Used When Disinfecting
If you are using too many products in your facility, the effects can be seen in a variety of ways. One of these is a negative impact on the health and comfort of patients and staff. Further, these impacts are two fold in the form of fumes, as well as direct contact. Every chemical has a distinct smell. When you use multiple chemicals, all of those fumes and odors are going to mix and permeate the facility.
This can create an uncomfortable environment for anyone breathing this air. For instance, have you ever been in a pool or a hot tub with far too much chlorine? It becomes hard to breath and your eyes begin to sting. Many of the chemicals used for disinfection can actually become respiratory tract sensitizers or irritants at higher concentrations in the atmosphere and are regulated by authorities such as OSHA!
Another negative of using too many disinfectants is the increased exposure of cleaning staff to various chemicals. When a facility uses multiple cleaning chemicals, cleaning staff are responsible for handling, mixing, diluting, and preparing all of these. That means they require knowledge of all of these chemicals, as well as the precautions and hazards they present, thus complicating their jobs.
Aside from the physical effects, there are also financial repercussions of using too much disinfection material. If a facility is purchasing 4-5 different chemicals, the costs of those are going to mount up considerably. In addition, more chemicals means more cleaning staff required to handle them.
Selective Micro Technologies has helped healthcare facilities reduce their chemical load and thus create a safer work environment while also saving them money. SMT investigated the chemicals used at a long-term care facility and discovered that their 4 disinfectants were, in fact, all the same thing!
By offering pure chlorine dioxide as a solution, they facility was able to replace all four. By doing this, the infection control staff now had a more effective disinfectant that could be used at lower concentrations, thus exposing them to less chemical. It also cut down on cleaning time, so much so that they were able to eliminate 25% of their cleaning staff.