Keeping Patients on the Move, Not Germs: Disinfecting Ambulatory Surgery Centers
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HealthcareSeptember 10, 2019

Keeping Patients on the Move, Not Germs: Disinfecting Ambulatory Surgery Centers

Ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) serve as satellite healthcare facilities for a variety of medical needs, offering a myriad of services—ranging from dental, ophthalmological, orthopedic, surgery, endoscopic, and obstetric/gynecological care—that allow patients to receive care outside of a hospital setting at often more convenient locations. Yet, just because ASCs are remotely located from hospitals does not mean they are isolated from the risk of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), such as surgical site infections (SSIs) caused by endogenous bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus and coagulase-negative Etaphylococcus.

In the past, ASCs were considered to have low infection risks. This was due to the fact that outpatients often have less severe illnesses, the duration of office visits are generally brief, and the majority of procedures are minimally invasive. However, recent trends in healthcare have challenged this notion. Since 1975, the number of active hospitals in the United States has declined by 12% (from over 7,100 hospitals to just over 6,200), while the number of ASCs has increased significantly, with more than 9,280 active ASCs in the U.S. today—meaning individuals who once would seek treatment at hospitals are visiting ASCs instead.

On top of this increase in active ASCs and decrease in active hospitals, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlighted a 2010 report from the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) that found lapses in infection control were common among a sample of ASCs in 3 states. This report elicited an active response from the CDC, which has since more heavily stressed the need for proper infection control assessments and disinfection efforts.

As the number of ASCs continues to increase in the United States, so too do the risks of infection, thus making proper disinfection methods necessary. Below, we take a look at the CDC’s core recommendations.

Practice Hygiene with Healthcare Personnel

In order to make disinfection efforts easier, it’s important to first practice hygienic efforts across an entire ASC staff. Such efforts include regular hand hygiene, use of personal protective equipment, and injection safety. For instance, when handling ill patients, such as those with suspected Clostridium difficile or norovirus, it’s paramount to regularly wash hands with soap and water, especially before and after caring for a new patient. Alcohol-based hand rubs (ABHR) can be used in the absence of soap and water; however, handwashing provides the highest level of disinfection.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should also be worn by ASC staff members whenever possible since it can prevent the initial exposure to an infectious agent altogether. Such PPEs include gloves, gowns, facemasks, respirators, goggles, and face shields, which can reduce staff exposure to potentially dangerous pathogens that may be in patient blood or body fluids, mucous membranes, and non-intact skin. Finally, injection safety practices should be carried out among ASC staff to prevent the direct transmission of infectious diseases between patients and staff members. Safe injection practices include not using the same syringe or needle to administer medication to multiple patients, not reinserting a used syringe with or without the same needle into a medication vial or solution container, not preparing medications in close proximity to contaminated supplies or equipment, and wearing a facemask when injecting patients.

Disinfect ASC Equipment & Environments

While infection prevention efforts are necessary and recommended by the CDC, it’s also critical to regularly disinfect ASC equipment that can have infectious pathogens on it. In particular, frequently used medical devises, especially those that are reusable and shared, require regular disinfection. Such devices can include critical items, semi-critical items, noncritical items, and environmental surfaces.

Critical items are medical devices that come into contact with sterile tissues, cavities, or bloodstreams, which can include surgical instruments, cardiac and urinary catheters, and ultrasound probes. Semi-critical items are medical devices that come into contact with non-intact skin or mucous membrane, but do not penetrate soft tissues, which can include endoscopes, and a variety of probes. Noncritical items are often medical devices that only contact the skin, which can include blood pressure cuffs, stethoscopes, hospital beds, and furniture. Environmental surfaces and areas that have been visited by infected patients should also be routinely disinfected, such as floors and walls. In order to properly disinfect these surfaces, the CDC recommends using disinfectants registered under the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with label claims for use in healthcare.

Keep Patients on the Move—Not Germs

When it comes to properly disinfecting equipment and environments in ambulatory surgery centers, Halosil’s EPA-registered HaloMist™ is the ideal whole room disinfection solution. Delivering the highest level of efficacy at the most affordable rate, our dry fogging disinfection solution achieves universal coverage across complex and sensitive spaces, ensuring that pathogens on critical equipment and environments in ASCs are properly eliminated.

Ready to eliminate infectious pathogens in your ambulatory surgery center? Contact Halosil today.

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