Healthcare-associated-infections have multiple similarities to the COVID-19 virus. Both can be transferred through contact with surfaces containing the bacteria or virus, both can be contagious, and both can be effectively eliminated using similar cleaning practices.
While different viruses have different lifespans, COVID has been found to remain infectious on surfaces for anywhere between two hours and nine days (Kampf 2020), though other viruses can last for months on certain surfaces (Doll 2017). Due to their long lifespan, bacteria and viruses that are not removed or destroyed during cleaning have potential to infect patients long after cleaning occurs.
While each hospital has its own set of cleaning practices, studies show that high-contact surfaces are often not cleaned thoroughly enough, (Doll 2017; Meyer 2020) leaving enough pathogens to both infect patients and contaminate nurses’ gowns and gloves, potentially spreading the disease to other patient rooms.
Meyer’s 2020 study examined the quality of cleaning in high-contact areas in patient rooms in a Canadian teaching hospital, finding that only 63% of surfaces were properly cleaned.
Meyer cites the main reasons for a lack of thorough cleaning as potential time constraints, understaffing, and lack of training. Doll comes to a similar conclusion in his study, noting that non-compliance with cleaning practices is typically caused by a lack of understanding the cleaning process — not mal-intent on the part of the person cleaning.
In a 2020 study by Shimabukuro, multiple research papers were compared to find best cleaning practices for COVID-19. The results show that multiple cleaning solutions are effective, so long as cleaning is frequent and thorough, especially in high-touch areas.
Focusing cleaning efforts on high-contact areas has been proven to reduce the risk of Healthcare-associated-infections being transferred to patients. The same applies to the COVID-19 virus. Extra attention to the cleaning of high-touch surfaces can lower the risk of infection or illness.