Whiteley calls for increased investment in healthcare cleaning

Whiteley Corporation calls for increased investment in healthcare cleaning amid poor hand hygiene levels.

Whiteley Corporation chairman Dr Greg Whiteley has called for increased investment in healthcare cleaning to compensate for the poor level of hand hygiene in hospitals during a seminar series held in New Zealand.

Held by Whiteley Corporation NZ in Auckland and Christchurch, the seminar series focused on the latest research on hand hygiene, surface cleaning and their role in reducing hospital acquired infections (HAIs).

During his keynote presentation on the latest research on surface cleaning and disinfection, Dr. Greg Whiteley called for increased investment in cleaning in healthcare facilities to compensate for the poor level of hand hygiene in hospitals.

Dr Greg Whiteley

“It is very important that surfaces are cleaned efficiently, and bacteria are killed effectively,” said Whiteley.

He explained that once bacteria set up a biofilm on a surface, they liberate members of the community to find other locations where a new home can be established, allowing an infection to commence.

“The goal of bacteria is survival,” said Whiteley. “Bacteria have strategies that assist in their survival, move via hands and mobile surfaces, adapt to form new homes on new surfaces with biofilm growth, and absorb genetic elements that confer resistance to antibiotics and medicines.”

Renowned infection control expert and keynote speaker Professor Mary-Louise McLaws gave a disruptive presentation that challenged the current thinking on hand hygiene compliance.

“Hand hygiene is the most critical infection prevention intervention,” said McLaws.

“Monitoring compliance is an essential component of maintaining quality assurance standards within the healthcare setting. Unfortunately, the currently endorsed methods of monitoring are highly flawed.”

She went on to explain that automated hand hygiene compliance measurements demonstrated that mandatory audits within healthcare settings are not valid and differ from automated auditing by 30 – 50 per cent. She also added that staff fail to clean their hands unless they are being watched.

Professor Mary-Louise McLaws

In her presentation, McLaw explained her research findings in more detail, highlighting the type of leaders and ward culture that influence rates (for good and bad compliance) and that ‘bundling’ elements is an answer to this basic but flawed clinical practice.

One of the key take outs from her presentation was the importance of the first moment of the Five Moments for Hand Hygiene; before approaching a patient.

“If you can get staff to increase their compliance on this moment alone, you reduce the likelihood of your patients acquiring a HAI, which can lead to a slow and painful death,” she said.

“Not undertaking hand hygiene compliance in a healthcare environment is like being an accessory to a slow murder. Since we have such low levels of hand hygiene compliance, we are highly reliant on the environmental services team to ensure surfaces are clean as possible to reduce the spread of infection.”

The presentations, which were well attended by healthcare professionals predominantly from the hospital sector, were followed by a lively Q&A session, which showed the high level of audience engagement with the topics.

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