Much is written about the role of hospital environmental services (EVS) in the fight against healthcare-acquired infections (HAIS) for a good reason. EVS for hospitals plays a significant role in reducing many types of HAIs, including Clostridioides (formerly known as Clostridium) difficile (C. diff).
About C. Diff
C.diff presents a major health threat, hospitalizing an estimated 23,900 patients and resulting in 12,800 deaths annually in the United States. C. diff is a bacterium that causes severe diarrhea and colitis, an inflammation of the colon. The disease most often originates in patients who are taking or just stopped taking antibiotics because antibiotics kill the normal intestinal flora (good gut bugs) that protect against C. diff infection.
C. diff is spread through feces and is highly contagious. Any surface that becomes contaminated by feces can be a hotbed for C. diff spores, including toilets, bathtubs, bedding, rectal thermometers—to name but a few. It is most often spread from hands touching a person after coming in contact with a contaminated surface. Not everyone who comes in contact with C. diff gets sick, yet they can still be a carrier and spread the germs to others.
Preventing the Spread of C. Diff
Understanding how C. diff is transmitted and how to prevent this transmission is essential for hospital EVS workers. Below are steps the CDC recommends acute care hospital cleaning services take to prevent C. diff from spreading.
- Create daily and terminal cleaning protocols and checklists for patient-care areas and equipment.
- Use a sporicidal agent on the EPA’s List K of formulas effective against C. diff to clean and disinfect:
- C. diff patient rooms daily
- Patient-care environments including the immediate vicinity around C. diff patients, high touch surfaces, and toilets at least daily
- All shared equipment used by C. diff patients prior to use with another patient, such as wheelchairs, walkers, gurneys, etc.
- Perform terminal cleaning with a sporicidal agent on the EPA List K after C. diff patients’ transfer/discharge
- Use an EPA List K sporicidal formula to clean and disinfect all transient areas potentially contaminated by patients with suspected or confirmed C. diff, such as Radiology, Emergency Department, Physical Therapy.
Cleaning and disinfecting to stop the spread of C. diff is one of many ways EVS for hospitals contributes to infection prevention and helps make hospitals safer, healthier places for patients to heal.