QUT: How clean are our hospitals

Friday, 12 September, 2014

Hospitals are presumed to be squeaky clean, but new research will find out which techniques work best to reduce the spread of infection.

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Adjunct Professor and The Wesley Research Institute CEO, Professor Christian Gericke, said the REACH - Researching Effective Approaches to Cleaning in Hospitals - program would determine whether a new “bundled” approach to hospital cleaning, including education, training and empowerment for cleaning staff, is a cost-effective way to reduce the transmission of infections via surfaces in hospitals.
“Hospital cleaning is usually taken for granted but it is invaluable in preventing hospital-acquired infections,” Professor Gericke said.
QUT Senior Research Fellow Dr Lisa Hall said there are 200,000 healthcare-associated infections in Australian acute healthcare facilities each year, the most common complication affecting patients in hospital.
“There is a lot of documentation and literature out there that show some things work and some don’t, and there are quite a few recommendations in the national guidelines for cleaning. But how to translate that information into getting cleaner hospitals and fewer infections is still unknown,” she said.
A pilot program began in May in Queensland, where this environmental cleaning bundle - a small set of key interventions - will be trialled.
“These interventions are core principles that are evidence based, but by ensuring that they are all done together, the outcome is greater than the sum of its parts,” Dr Hall says.
“It works in the same way as wearing suncream, a hat, and sitting in the shade, gives better results at reducing skin cancer than each intervention occurring on their own.
“Cleaners play such an important role in hospitals, and we see this project as empowering them with more knowledge.”
Conducted through The Centre of Research Excellence in Reducing Healthcare Associated Infections, the project is funded by $646,817 from the National Health and Medical Research Council. The Wesley Research Institute is a major partner on the grant.”
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