moisture and the transmission of germs to damp hands is 1,000 times more likely when compared to dry. Either by investing in high-quality ‘no touch’ driers, or providing ample paper towels is important – there’s no definitive expert view on which is better – supplying suitable hand drying solutions is essential to stop the transfer of germs across a hospital.

“A hospital’s hygiene policy

should come into play from the moment someone crosses the threshold.”

AUTOMATIC SOLUTIONS But infection control needs to go further than a strict hand hygiene policy. Solutions should be implemented that can work in the background of a hospital’s operations to kill bacteria automatically instead of relying on people following guidelines, which can never be guaranteed.

Shared surfaces such as door handles or cafeteria tables can be a hub for bacteria. A study conducted by The University of Arizona found that traces of a harmless virus placed on an office door handle were transmitted to half of the surfaces in the same office within just four hours.

Hands are responsible for the spread of 80% of infectious diseases and effective hand hygiene continues to be the best and most cost-effective way to prevent this. Hand rubs are a quick and accessible solution against hand- to-surface contamination, but although these are made widely available it can be difficult to guarantee they will be used correctly.

Guides instructing employees and visitors on the importance of regular use will help. In fact, making sure educational posters on general hygiene are highly visible across a hospital can have a big impact on preventing germs spreading. For example, many people are unaware of the correct hand-washing process and that you need to wash hands for at least 20 seconds, so it’s worthwhile placing posters near hand-washing sinks to make sure all are fully aware of the correct process.

This is most pertinent in washrooms, which see a high volume of patients, staff and outside visitors using the same facilities and every effort should be made to reduce hand-to-surface contamination. Automatic and stylish looking soap dispensers provide a ‘no touch’ solution and ensure the correct amount of product is distributed. A high quality-looking unit and luxurious foam soap helps promote hand washing. This prevents wastage and makes sure people use enough soap to kill bacteria.

Likewise, hand drying is equally as important to prevent germs from leaving the washroom. Bacteria thrive in

Obviously ensuring that all cleaners are vigilant with antibacterial spray when cleaning surfaces is key. But with the amount of movement in a hospital, it can be difficult to ensure cleanliness throughout the day. There are now hygiene solutions available specifically for door handles that spray an antibacterial mist that kills bacteria and stops the transmission from surface to hand. Highly visible solutions like this make it clear to patients and visitors that a hospital is prepared to go above and beyond to prevent infection.

Outside of hand-to-surface transmission, there are also measures that can be taken to stop airborne bacteria. Coughs and sneezes spread diseases, as the saying goes, and many people do not effectively cover their mouth and release germs into the air. This can have potentially fatal consequences in shared wards with vulnerable patients, especially with the rise of severe flu-like illnesses such as last year’s outbreak of ‘Aussie flu’.

Again, placing guidance posters around a hospital can help but for peace of mind, products are now available that use the latest sterilisation technology to kill airborne bacteria. These can be best deployed in shared areas where the transmission risk is greatest, minimising the threat of airborne infections spreading between patients.

When considering a hospital’s hygiene policy, there can be no such thing as ‘too vigilant’ and ensuring the health and safety of patients is paramount. By creating a strategy that relies on both automatic and managed solutions means all bases are covered and an efficient and effective approach to hygiene can be practised at all times. HEALTHCARE HYGIENE | 47

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