As we move into the winter season with increased cases of the cold and flu, it is important to evaluate and update your safe cleaning practices to stay ahead of the spread. Patients are looking to see that practices are actively cleaning, disinfecting, and following proper protocols, which can immediately reduce patient stress, help foster comfort during visits, as well as promote word-of-mouth recommendations from patients to friends and family still apprehensive about keeping their visits.
Let’s look at waiting room upgrades and several CDC recommended cleaning practices to imbue patient confidence and keep your practice spotless.
Upgrade Your Waiting Room
Waiting room traffic is still a concern for many practices. Most offices currently operate using altered waiting room procedures including:
- Call before entering protocols,
- Limited number of seats available,
- Allowing patients to enter alternately through the front and back doors,
- As well as temperature readings, pulse oximeter readings, and more.
But even with the best one-in, one-out practices to limit crowds and patient exposure, there is still the potential for contamination due to patient error, staff error, and more. To help protect you, your staff, and patients, more and more practices are outfitting their waiting rooms with helpful dividers, like sneeze guards, at the counter and in between chairs in the waiting room to reduce exposure.
A proper sneeze guard will offer a clear acrylic, solid physical barrier that can be easily installed and cleaned. Several types of sneeze guards, like the BodyMed® Sneeze Guard, are customizable with or without a backer transaction window, ideal for reception desks.
Pedal Activated Hand Sanitizer Stands
Pedal Activated Hand Sanitizer Stands also provide a touch-free way to provide patients with hand sanitizer. These hands-free, foot operated sanitizing stations incorporate an adjustable piston inside that works with most hand sanitizer pump bottles. Patients simply press down on the foot pedal to dispense sanitizer directly into their hands.
According to the CDC’s protocols for “Environmental Cleaning in Resource-Limited Settings,” the CDC recommends risk-based cleaning frequency protocols to keep areas clean. These protocols look at the “probability of contamination,” focusing on surfaces and items that may become heavily contaminated due to frequency of use, which require frequent cleaning.
Other factors include “vulnerability of patients to infection,” which are surfaces and items in areas where patients who are more vulnerable or susceptible to illness will frequent. Surfaces and items that have “potential for exposure to pathogens” like hand rails, counters, door handles, pens, etc. also require rigorous cleaning.1
The CDC recommends developing a cleaning schedule that identifies “frequency, the method (product, process), [and] detailed SOPs for environmental cleaning of surfaces and noncritical equipment in every type of patient care area.”1
Additional cleaning recommendations include cleaning from clean to dirty and high to low.
- Cleaning clean to dirty helps prevent contamination from entering a clean area. The CDC lists examples such as cleaning “low-touch surfaces before high-touch surfaces” and to “start with shared equipment and common surfaces, then proceed to surfaces and items touched during patient care that are outside of the patient zone, and finally to surfaces and items directly touched by the patient inside the patient zone.”1
- Cleaning from high to low helps prevent contamination from falling into already cleaned areas. An example includes “cleaning environmental surfaces before cleaning floors.”1
The CDC recommends cleaning be performed in a “systematic pattern around the patient zone”1 in the same manner everytime in order to avoid missing key areas patients come in contact with.
Any bodily fluids should be attended to immediately using a fresh cleaning cloth soaked in a cleaning solution. When wiped, surfaces should be “thoroughly wetted to allow required contact time”1 for disinfection to occur.
- Do not double-dip cleaning cloths in any containers used for storing cleaning products.
- Do not shake mop heads and cleaning cloths once used.
- Do not leave used mop heads and cloths soaking in containers. These should be stored for recleaning or disposed of.
- Waiting rooms should be cleaned at least once daily.
- Examination rooms should be cleaned at least twice daily.
- High-touch surfaces/floors should be cleaned often between each usage.
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1“Environmental Cleaning Procedures.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 21 Apr. 2020, www.cdc.gov/hai/prevent/resource-limited/cleaning-procedures.html.