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Targeted cleaning in hospitals can cut MRSA rates and save money

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The Department of Health has been shown evidence that just one extra cleaner on a hospital ward can reduce MRSA infections and save tens of thousands of pounds.

The year-long study, sponsored by Unison and published in a peer-reviewed journal, found that one extra cleaner, using targeted cleaning methods, had a “measurable effect on the clinical environment”, reduced new MRSA infections and saved the hospital involved £30,000-£70,000.

The research, published in BMC Medicine and presented to the DH last week, used one extra cleaner on two matched surgical wards from Monday to Friday, with each ward receiving enhanced cleaning for six months. It found enhanced cleaning led to a 32.5 per cent reduction in microbial contamination at hand touch sites.   

Cases of MRSA fell in the six months of targeted cleaning on ward A, and then rose again when the cleaner moved to ward B, which in turn saw the number of cases fall.

The researchers found a 26.6 per cent reduction in new MRSA infections on the wards receiving extra cleaning, despite higher MRSA patient days and bed occupancy rates during enhanced cleaning periods. Clusters of new infections were identified 2-4 weeks after the cleaner left both wards.

The research focused on targeting cleaning around specific areas close to patient beds, such as lockers, trays, buzzers, curtains and the beds themselves. Detergent was used in place of commonly used and expensive, eco-damaging alternatives.

The study authors concluded: “This study has shown that one additional cleaner on two surgical wards over one year can have an impact on the microbial contamination of high risk hand touch sites. There is a suggestion that the number of new MRSA infections were reduced relative to the level of MRSA patient days.”

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “[This] work has shone new light on the absolute importance of putting effective cleaning practices at the heart of infection control. It busts the myth that expensive solutions and disinfectants are needed to keep wards clean and it provides a blueprint for hospitals to cut their own infection rates.”

A DH spokesman said: “Preventing healthcare associated infections continues to be a top priority for the government and we welcome this contribution that demonstrates the importance of infection control and cleaning teams working closely together.”

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Readers' comments (2)

  • At last research has proven what we have suspected for years. If you clean an area properly then you will cut down on infection.
    Nurses have learnt this as a basic fact in their nursing course since Florence 's time.
    Yet again, get back to talking to people at the coal face and find out what needs to be done to improve the hospital's. WE HAVE THE ANSWERS if only someone would listen to us.

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  • couldn't agree more with the last poster.
    But it alarms me to think that people have been paid ,what I assume a very good remuneration for coming up with what is as clear as day light.
    It is such a basic fact of every aspect of life that cleanliness is a friend to health and wellbeing.
    It grieves me to see the amount of time and money poured down the drain merely to confirm an already simple fact.
    If hospital managers had just conformed to basic cleanliness before being forced to do so by targets to reduce HAI's before they became such a problem then we wouldn't have these so-called researchers lining their pockets with easy money.

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