Keep it clean! 7 ways to fight antibiotic resistance

Antibiotic Awareness Week is happening right now, and most of the time we hear about how important it is use antibiotics only when necessary. But there’s one important, less talked about approach: cleaning.

As it turns out, there’s a lot more to best cleaning practices than you’d initially think. Try the following tips to prevent infections from breaking out in your hospital:

  1. Assess risk to decide what products to use. The type of disinfectant depends on the area you’re cleaning and what kinds of soil and pathogens may be present. Nicole Kenny, vice president of professional and technical services at Virox Technologies, noted while antibiotic resistance is a concern with treatment of the animals, it is not a concern with respect to the efficacy of a disinfectant.  However, when cleaning you always want to minimize the risk of aerosolization. A low-pressure spray or foaming type application will reduce the pathogens put into the air for potential transmission.
  2. Clean high-touch areas. Look for areas that get touched all the time and clean them often to knock out the pathogens that can linger there. Dr. Lucas Pantaleon, Senior Clinical Veterinarian Advisor at Virox Technologies, suggested one easy solution in the form of disposable wipes with a broad-spectrum disinfectant that’s safe and has a quick contact time.
  3. Choose disinfectants that work for you. There are two main approaches to choosing disinfectants. The first is having one day-to-day disinfectant and one disinfectant specifically for outbreaks. The second is using only one product that targets all pathogens you’re concerned about on a day-to-day basis. For example, if you see a lot of puppies, you might want to use a day-to-day product that is capable of killing parvo.
  4. Pay attention to contact time. Most people like to use sprays, but be aware of contact time and distribution! A spray does not cover the entire surface, and wiping with a dry cloth simply removes the disinfectant. Kenny suggests wiping down with a cloth wetted with the disinfectant to ensure equal distribution and increased contact time of the disinfectant.
  5. Practice proper hand hygiene. This means training about how to properly wash hands and then sticking to it! The soap and water approach is fine but an alcohol-based hand sanitizer can also be appropriate. Dr. Pantaleon mentioned a combination of good cleaning habits and proper hand hygiene will likely decrease the transmission of hard-to-kill bacteria.
  6. Educate your staff. Education is key. Leverage your distributor or sales representative and arrange training every time you purchase a new product. Have them “train the trainer” so new staff can quickly get up to speed. Kenny says it’s important to avoid bad habits in the training process to ensure “when our new staff are being clean they understand how to dilute a product, what does contact time mean, how do you actually clean these surfaces.”
  7. Stay aware. Make training an ongoing process. Periodic refreshers will keep everyone up to date and committing to best practices means working together as a team.

Photo credit: © iStock/jocic