iStock_000010123353XSmallThere’s a saying in the healthcare profession that “one good housekeeper can prevent more infections than a dozen doctors can cure.”

Environmental cleaning is critical to prevent healthcare-associated infections. In healthcare settings, germs are present throughout the environment, many of which cause infections. Contaminated surfaces play a vital role in the transmission of dangerous germs, including Clostridium difficile (C. diff), and multi-drug resistant organisms such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

study recently released in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal found that Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) was present on numerous environmental surfaces in hospitals, including areas unreachable by MERS patients. This study highlighted that frequent and thorough environmental cleaning and disinfection are critical to reduce the spread of contagious infectious agents.

Maintaining an environment that is free from contaminants requires an appropriate cleaning program with a multidisciplinary oversight team, a quality assurance system, and comprehensive training for staff that focuses on cleaning processes, the importance of routine cleaning of high touch areas, and the use of the right chemicals and tools.

Arizona’s Healthcare-Associated Infection Advisory Committee has developed guidance to help healthcare facilities establish a proficient cleaning protocol for C. diff. This guidance evaluates tools based on strength of evidence, cost, ease of implementation, and time commitment. The guidelines are in an easy to use format that can also be applied to prevent other healthcare-associated infections beyond C. diff. Remember, in addition to good hand hygiene, proper environmental cleaning can help break the cycle of infection and make Arizona safer for everyone.