Background: Concerns have been raised over poor standards of hospital cleanliness and insufficient time for staff to clean reusable communal patient care equipment. These items may then act as vectors for the transmission of nosocomial pathogens between hospital patients. Aim: To evaluate the impact of cleaning duration on nosocomial infection rates and estimate the time required to clean care equipment in accordance with national specifications (i.e. a ‘time to clean’). Methods: A systematic review of the published literature on cleaning times and an observational study in which nine healthcare workers cleaned seven items of care equipment while the duration of time taken to clean each item was measured. Results: A limited volume of low-quality evidence indicates that increased cleaning times in hospitals can reduce the incidence of healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs). The mean ‘time to clean’ for care equipment ranged from 166.3 s (95% confidence interval [CI] = 117.8–214.7) for a bed frame to 29.0 s (95% CI = 13.4–44.6) for a blood pressure cuff. Discussion: ‘Time to clean’ estimates for care equipment provide an indication of how much protected time is necessary to ensure acceptable standards of cleanliness. Clinical trials are needed to further evaluate the impact of increased cleaning times on nosocomial infection rates.
- infection control
- medical equipment