If you were asked to list the dirtiest spots at work, you might first think of places like the bathrooms. And you would be correct! But where are the others? You may be surprised!
1. The Bathroom: Yes, you already knew this. But it’s not the toilet that is the cause of infection. In most facilities, toilets get top priority and are cleaned without fail. It’s the other areas of the bathroom that are germ-infested: the toilet handle, the faucet handles, the soap dispenser, the surface around the sink, and the door handle. E-coli, fecal bacteria, Hepatitis A, and salmonella are a few of the culprits in bathrooms. Wash, wash, wash those hands and use a paper towel to open the door.
2. The Kitchen/Break Room: The place where food is prepared for residents and patients, and where staff eats, is at the top of the list. Why? Two reasons. First the sink. Studies have shown it has more bacteria than anywhere else in the facility. Second: the staff refrigerator. Food is left for days and becomes rotten. Both places should be sanitized on regular schedule. Other places that are breeding grounds for bacteria: countertops, sponges and wipes, cabinet and refrigerator handles, and the coffee maker.
3. The Nurses Station: Think about it. People come from patient contact to answer phones, use the keyboard and mouse, or touch the desk top and furniture. Throughout the day, there are plenty of opportunities to bring germs to one of the busiest places on the unit. Make sure everything gets cleaned with a disinfectant and even more frequently during cold and flu season.
4. The Community Area: Residents, visitors, and staff can all contribute to the bugs that spread infection. All high-traffic areas should be cleaned daily, especially the surfaces that everyone touches: door handles, television controls, objects on tables and the tabletops. Hand sanitizer should be placed in convenient and easy-to-see places.
5. Uniforms: The American Journal of Infection Control published a study in 2011 reporting that 60% of healthcare uniforms were positive for bacteria that could cause pneumonia, sepsis, and drug-resistant infections, such as MRSA. The bacteria showed up on sleeves and in pockets. Think twice about wearing your scrubs home or to stop in public places after leaving work. Check your facility’s policy or simply bring an outfit to change into after work, and bag up your scrubs for washing in hot water, separate from family laundry. Dry them on a high heat setting.
Make a list of all the busy places at your facility or on your unit. Coordinate with Housekeeping to make sure the “at-risk” areas are disinfected on a regular basis. When fewer pathogens are spread, you’ll stay healthy, have fewer sick days, and be able to provide better care for your patients. You’ll also keep your own family from catching anything that’s going around. Your patients will stay well, too. That means fewer complications for them, and a better workday for you.
Try reviewing the course material on the spread of micro-organisms from our course library.
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