Hospital Sinks; Hand hygiene is a critical component of infection prevention in hospitals, but the unintended consequences include water splashing out of a sink to spread contaminants from dirty faucets according to new research presented last week in Philadelphia at the 46th Annual Conference of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).
The patient care
Sinks are potential sources of Healthcare Associate Infections (HAI) and have link to outbreaks. However, transmission of microorganisms from sink to patient is not well understood. Sink contents may be splash onto patient care items, contaminating them during faucet use. A splash study was perform to understand the splash potential of the different faucet and sink designs in a larger academic teaching hospital in the Midwest, and an audit of sink cleanliness was conducted.
Researchers at the University of Michigan Health System assess eight different designs across four intensive care units to determine how dirty sinks and faucets really are. They find that a shallow depth of the sink bowl enable potentially contaminate water to splash onto patient care items, healthcare worker hands, and into patient care spaces at times at a distance of more than four feet from the sink itself.
The inside of faucets where you can’t clean were much dirtier than expect. Potentially hazardous germs in and around sinks present a quandary for infection preventionists; so since having accessible sinks for hand washing is so integral to everything we promote. Acting on the information they find; they have undertaken a comprehensive faucet replacement program across our hospital.
Grime level in Hospital Sinks
To identify the grime level of the sinks; so the researchers use adenosine triphosphate (ATP) monitoring to measure the cleanliness. Visible biofilm was associate with higher ATP readings; also cultures test over the course of the study grew Pseudomonas aeruginosa, mold, and other environmental organisms.
The research team also find aerators on sinks where they had previously remove; so pointing to an overall inconsistency of equipment protocols across the facility. Include in the design improvement program were sink guards; which were show to limit splash significantly.
As we learn more about the often stealthy ways; so in which germs can spread inside healthcare facilities; so infection preventionists play an increasingly important role in healthcare facility; hence design including in the selection of sink and faucet fixtures as this study illustrates, said 2019 APIC President Karen Hoffmann, RN, MS, CIC, FSHEA, FAPIC.
Because the healthcare environment can serve as a source of resistant organisms capable of causing dangerous infections, an organization’s infection prevention; also control program must ensure that measures are in place to reduce the risk of transmission from environmental sources and monitor compliance with those measures.