A research team led through the Western Sydney University (WSU) has published its latest findings that highlight a new integrated cleanliness monitoring process which assists in locating the presence of multi-resistant organisms (MRO) within healthcare settings, notably in busy intensive care units (ICUs).
The study’s title is ‘A pilot study into finding the bad bugs in a busy Intensive Care Unit’.
The new method uses a novel combination of existing cleanliness monitoring methods which applies the strengths in each individual method to overcome the weaknesses in each of the alternative methods.
The study is presented as the lead article in the prestigious American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC) in the December 2015 issue. The principal author for this study from the WSU team is Mr Greg Whiteley.
“This new approach has major implications for cleaning and cleanliness as there was a seven- fold greater likelihood of quickly finding the less clean locations than using the traditional method which uses microbiology sampling in isolation,” explained Mr Whiteley. “These organisms cannot be seen and are very hard to locate and then eradicate.
“The surprising findings include the number and variety of multi-resistant bacteria located well away from the patient surrounds,” Mr Whiteley added.
The study identified the hazards on clinical workstations within busy ICUs. Nine of 13 confirmed MROs found during the study were located on items such as clinical workstations chairs, clipboards, keyboards, telephones, and a computer mouse. Many of these frequently touched objects are often overlooked by routine (daily) hospital cleaning protocols.
Mr Whiteley pointed out that, “The selective use of rapid ATP testing was critical in achieving a real time indication of where to sample and what to sample in the ICUs.” The methods of sampling were also said to be novel and used a new approach to both environmental sampling and bacterial recovery.
“Whilst our results are from the first pilot study of its type, we expect that these results will be similar for most healthcare settings due to the nature of the multi-resistant bacteria and their ability to survive and persist in biofilms located on common surfaces,” Mr Whiteley stated.
“This study highlights the need for vigilance in surface hygiene and hand hygiene compliance by all staff and visitors within critical care environments such as an ICU,” he added.
Mr Whiteley emphasised that this study underlines the importance of local research and indicates the challenges for the medical community and the general community as bacteria develop increasing resistance to antibiotics.
“More research is needed on cleaning and hygiene,” he stressed.