Keeping hospitals clean has always been a crucial patient – safety issue! COVID-19 has put the spotlight on hospitals, how they are keeping their facilities clean and sanitary to prevent the spread of the virus among patients and staff.
When coronavirus pandemic started to be reported across the country, authorities rush to make sure that hospitals and healthcare institutions were cleaned up and prepared to deal with the situation. The Central Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) issued guidelines stating “Hospitals need to practice and maintain the highest standards for hygiene and an environment conducive for speedy patient recovery.”
Here are some highlights of this guideline:
Cleaning staff should be trained in cleaning and decontamination of hospital surfaces.
- They should wear proper PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) like aprons, gloves, gowns, footwear, hair cover, and facial protection.
- Floors should be cleansed by wet mopping, and vacuum cleaning with filters attached.
- Hospital surfaces should be cleaned regularly using hot water and a natural detergent or a disinfectant.
There are also several other guidelines on hospital maintenance. How well do hospitals follow these protocols? While referral hospitals like AIIMS, New Delhi are often well-maintained but, this is not the case with many average government hospitals.
What could be the solution?
Cleanliness and hygiene are important in any public place, but in hospitals, it is critical due to the fact that the spread of germs can endanger individuals who are already at risk. Hence, maintaining cleaning standards at the highest level is not only important to adhere to administration but will also help save health care services time and money. During this pandemic situation, hygiene is a crucial part of overall health and safety, as it is a major contributor to controlling the spread of the virus.
While the government has already given the guidelines to make sure that approximate cleaning methods are enforced in all hospitals, let’s talk about how the condition of hospitals can be improved with some of the waste management and environment-friendly techniques.
Waste Management Techniques
Waste generated by hospitals and healthcare institutions includes a broad range of materials, from used needles and syringes to soiled dressings, blood, body parts, diagnostic samples, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, etc. Poor management of these wastes can potentially expose healthcare workers, patients, and the community at large to infection, toxic effects, and risks polluting the environment.
The most effective way to deal with waste items is to dispose them. It is an impossible standard and in the case where waste is not avoidable hospitals should consider waste minimization through the reuse of materials as long as patient safety is not compromised.
Many types of medical equipment are single-use, they are not meant to be reused and recycled. This means, a certain amount of medical waste generation cannot be avoided but such a waste stream can be minimized.
Medical facilities should switch from analog X-ray to more advanced digital options. This will eliminate the requirement of hazardous chemicals like developers, fixers, and the film itself. Instead of using disposable thermometer covers, hospitals should switch to reusable equivalents like sterilized or autoclaved glasses.
Medical waste should be segregated as per the state and facility regulations. Label waste bins as per the regulations and place them in all areas where medical waste is expected to be generated.
Another way is to track, manage and minimize the generated waste by conducting medical waste auditing. It will let hospital administrations know the composition, volume, and source of waste. And through auditing, they can set up better, more effective, and precise waste management interventions.