While the CDC reports a decrease overall in healthcare associated infections, HAIs are still a challenge. Infections contracted during hospital care carry an estimated cost of more than $36 billion a year. The human toll is even more significant. Those infections kill 75,000 people in the U.S. each year.
Research is constantly underway to discover where the infections come from so solutions can be implemented. Some of those solutions are going to be complicated and will require a significant investment, but others are easy to implement and cost very little.
Nothing Beats Soap and Water
While hand sanitizer is effective in inactivating some microbes, the CDC says it doesn’t beat washing hands with soap and water when it comes to staying germ-free.
The Wall Street Journal reports nurses and doctors who do not wash their hands properly after a patient examination cause more than a third of hospital infections.
A good sanitizer, one that contains at least 60 percent alcohol, can only inactivate certain microbes. To do that, people must use it correctly, but that rarely happens. Many people do not use enough sanitizer for it to work effectively, or they might wipe it off their hands before it has a chance to take hold.
What if your sanitizer does not have at least 60 percent alcohol? There is a chance germs can build resistance to the sanitizer. At best, you will only reduce the growth of germs, instead of killing them.
Even when you use it correctly, hand sanitizer can’t beat good old-fashioned soap and water when it comes to germs like Cryptosporidium (Crypto), norovirus, and Clostridium difficile (C. difficile).
In fact, the CDC recommends using hand sanitizer to prevent the spread of germs only when soap and water are not available.
Sink Design’s Role In Reducing the Spread of Infection
It is not enough that you convince your staff, patients, and their families to frequently clean their hands with soap and water. You also want to ensure your sinks stay sanitized, so germs do not return to clean hands.
When choosing a sink for your healthcare facility be sure the manufacturer has built in features that inhibit the growth of bacteria.
Basin Materials: The materials used in manufacturing should include an antimicrobial additive that inhibits the growth of stain and odor-causing bacteria. A cast solid surface basin ensures your sink is easy to clean and has fewer crevices for bacteria to take hold.
Basin Design: An internal slope helps to defuse water flow, which in turn minimizes splash from the faucet and backsplash from the drain. An offset drain also helps to reduce the likelihood bacteria from the drain will be introduced into the basin via splashing.
Faucet Design: Consider a sink that includes hands-free operation such as sensor operated faucets, foot pedals, or wrist blade handles. Choose a smooth faucet end to discourage any debris collection.
While washing hands and sink design and manufacturing will not solve the problem, any step in the right direction is a step worth taking.
Download our brochure for more information on Whitehall Manufacturing Infection Prevention sinks and faucets.