Hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) are a significant contributor to patient mortality, and contamination from high-touch surfaces poses a big risk. In 2021, these surfaces include mobile phones, pagers, tablets, smartwatches, and more.
The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly 1.7 million people contract HAIs while admitted into a healthcare facility. The mortality rate is approximately 6%, resulting in 98,000 preventable deaths a year. And when it comes to HAIs, the CDC adds that maintaining high levels of hand hygiene is a great way to prevent infections. Preventing the spread of germs, including those found on our mobile phones, is critical in controlling the chain of infection.
CleanSlate UV was founded with the mission to create a simple and effective way to sanitize staff & visitor devices. Research shows that an average of 1 in 4 hospital mobile devices are contaminated with pathogenic bacteria, with one study showing a nosocomial pathogen rate of >80% on mobile phones.
As such, it’s not enough for staff & visitors to maintain high levels of personal hygiene when entering a hospital or critical care unit. From a community transmission and infection control standpoint, it’s equally necessary for handheld devices to be adequately sanitized and disinfected.
CleanSlate UV units have been deployed in over 50 Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals as part of their broader infection control strategies.
To discuss the challenges faced by VA hospitals and share insight on solutions, CleanSlate UV hosted a webinar featuring Taylor Mann, CEO and Co-Founder of CleanSlate UV, and Brandon Carlton, Account Executive at Standard Communications.
VA Webinar Recording
Preventing Cross-Contamination in Facilities
“In today’s world, if you sanitize your hands or wash your hands and don’t sanitize your device, you’re going to almost immediately recontaminate your hands,” explained Taylor. “The rate of recontamination from hands back to devices is about 80% and we’ve done multiple studies that show when devices are left unsanitized, it really undermines the whole push towards hand hygiene.”
The challenge, however, is that hospitals and healthcare facilities operate in multiple different models. Some have a ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) policy, where staff are encouraged to use their own phones and tablet PCs. In such a situation, employees have to be convinced that their devices won’t be damaged by subjecting them to disinfection procedures.
In a facility-owned device environment, it’s the business that is responsible for ensuring that any disinfection solution doesn’t ultimately harm the devices or damage their longevity. The harsh nature of disinfection chemicals used speed up device degradation, and often result in rejected warranty claims.
The options for facilities were threefold. They could either:
- Initiate an outright ban on cellphones and handheld devices
- Use individual chemical wipes to sanitize devices
- Explore UV-C light solutions
In 2021, implementing a ban on cellphones is impossible and may actually undermine patient care. Chemical wipes are among the most widely-used options but they don’t inactivate superbugs and damage devices in the long-term. UV-C light, also known as germicidal light, has been used to deactivate viruses, bacteria, and spores for over 30 years and is widely prevalent in the healthcare, food processing, and biotechnology industries.
Chemical Wipes vs UV-C Light Disinfection
Almost all chemical wipes used in hospitals today are non-biodegradable, non-recyclable, and have a recommended contact time of at least 3 minutes. While they are capable of killing common germs and inactivating bacteria, the recommended time for them to take effect is too high, which often results in a subpar disinfection experience.
UV-C light targets the DNA and RNA structure of viruses and bacteria, resulting in a permanent change. This prevents the bacteria from replicating; UV-C light alters these elements and prevents germs from infecting other host cells.
Device Hygiene in VA Hospitals
Brandon explained how VA hospitals have invested a significant amount of resources in promoting hand hygiene with a means to reduce HAIs. The number one challenge that they face is that of workflow; cleaning a mobile device with chemical wipes takes time, which most clinicians don’t have. Inevitably, they end up not using the wipes properly.
Furthermore, there’s been a push in VA hospitals towards smart Vorcera badges that have texting and instant messaging capabilities. This, obviously, creates more touchpoint vectors and drives a greater push towards device sanitization. VA hospitals have also witnessed a large influx of smartphones due to the implementation of Cerner EMR mobile applications; which caregivers are required to download.
All of that being said, the maintenance of device hygiene and its role in infection control strategies is a big priority for VA hospitals.
Why do VA Hospitals Rely on CleanSlate?
To date over 50 VA hospitals have selected CleanSlate UV as their disinfection partner. The major criteria for this decision were:
- Improving sanitization cycle time
- Capacity to sanitize larger devices (such as iPads)
- Integration with existing hand hygiene workflows
- Ease of use
CleanSlate’s deployment at VA hospitals has been appreciated by frontline workers, too. Nurses and clinical workers see how it’s helped them save time while being extremely easy to use.
Learn more about how CleanSlate UV is a superior option to chemical wipes. Download our case study for more information!