Sanitizing high-touch objects in non-critical care areas can be broken down into products, steps and frequency. Even though labor costs will often prohibit the dwell times required to disinfect surfaces in non-critical areas, I prefer to use the appropriate EPA-registered one-step detergent disinfectant to clean by spraying and wiping HTOs with color coded microfiber cloths.
The process cleans the surface by removing the soil and germs with the microfiber cloth so the disinfectant can continue to do its job as opposed to the non-kill properties of an all-purpose cleaner. At the very least, we are sanitizing the surface by cleaning it and providing further kill in the wet or damp cloth, preventing the transfer of germs to other areas and/or surfaces.
As a BSC, it is important that the procedures be written, be site specific and state how often and what HTOs your staff will “Clean and sanitize with an EPA registered one step disinfectant” as opposed to “Clean and disinfect with an EPA registered disinfectant.” If the latter procedure is stated, then the dwell time must be allowed for as prescribed in the product’s label instructions. Another optional procedure might be “Clean HTOs daily.”
Surfaces and cleaning frequencies should be part of the scope of work as written into new contracts. According to Dan Wagner, director of facility service programs and CIMS for ISSA, “It is crucial to remember that a scope of work needs to be clear, up-to-date and does not leave anything open to interpretation. A perfect example would be if a scope of work states that a contractor should ‘wipe down baseboards as necessary’ which is likely to mean something dramatically different to two people and can cause confusion and unmet expectations.”
Let’s say the two people Dan is referring to are you and your customer, and the contract is for a multi-use building. If the contract’s scope of work does not state (and budget for) which HTOs are cleaned, how and how often, then what is your customer’s assumption? The assumption is probably a high expectation that you have this subject covered. What if there is a MRSA outbreak amongst the occupants? Questions start flying and fingers start pointing.
The best practice is to accurately define the cleaning specifications to allow the labor required to clean and sanitize all HTOs in a building. That is feasible for new contracts. For existing contracts, be proactive and review current policies and procedures. Rewrite policies if necessary, retrain employees and document the training.