Education key for ES technicians

By Healthcare Facilities Today
January 24, 2014

For environmental services (ES) technicians, it is important to become educated about available infection containment solutions so they can better advocate for their own safety — and by extension, patients and other healthcare staff, according to an article on the FaciltyCare website.

Many of the technologies that focus on containment incorporate antimicrobial substances into their surfaces. These are typically silver- and copper-infused surfaces and textiles ranging from countertops and doorknobs to curtains and IV stands, according to the article.

With these products, there may still be contamination in the environment, but pathogens will not proliferate, lessening the likelihood they will spread between cleanings and reducing the bacterial loads present when using traditional methods of chemically killing bacteria. These antimicrobial solutions are the first line of defense in the healthcare environment, the article said.

Organizations are beginning to recognize the need to limit contamination risks including many accepted yet potentially dangerous healthcare practices, the article said. For instance, disinfection appliances. or bedpan washers, are a complete shift for the U.S. healthcare industry but are common in the rest of the developed world.

Bedpans are typically cleaned manually by healthcare providers using a spray wand, which can aerosolize fecal material and pathogens, contaminating both the care environment and the caregiver. Bedpan washers eliminate the need to spray out bedpans and urinals. The caregiver places the full container inside the washer, shuts the door and presses a button — and an activity that is a major source of contamination of the patient environment is eliminated and the container is disinfected, the article said.

There are a large number of educational offerings that allow environmental service professionals to learn more about infection prevention technologies. Many organizations offer online low- or no-cost education. The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology launched an initiative with the Association for the Healthcare Environment to build bridges between infection preventionists and ES technicians called “Clean Spaces, Healthy Patients.” 

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