My, How Things Have Changed

Tuesday, October 20, 2015Rick Cantore

I was recently speaking with a close friend who has been an RN for the past 29 years. She was recounting to me that as part of her first nursing job, she was required to empty the ashtrays of her patients. WHAT THE..? That’s right, as little as a few decades ago some patients were smoking in their hospital rooms!

Today, I am part of a company that works within hundreds of hospitals across the country. Rolyn Healthcare offers a variety of both proactive and reactive services to healthcare facilities. Speaking of how things have changed, we are redefining the standards of healthcare restoration, remediation, and decontamination.

Rolyn continuously seeks out and reviews new technologies and systems used for emergency response, construction projects, ICRA, and many other remediation/restoration issues.

When it comes to high level decontamination, it is vital to consider delivery methods, storage, explosive issues, material compatibility, SDS labels, training requirements, PPE requirements, etc.

Today, decontamination comes in many forms, including UV light, vaporized H2O2, antimicrobial wipes, activated ionized H2Oand Chlorine Dioxide. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, which are covered in multiple published studies and medical journals.

When comparing different decontamination methods that use a chemical solution, dwell times are an important consideration. The dwell time specified on the label of products is often too long to be practically followed. The labels for many products registered by EPA for use against HBV, HIV, or M. tuberculosis specify a dwell time of 10 minutes! Such a long dwell time is not practical for disinfection of environmental surfaces. Additionally, many of the UV light systems need to be run thru multiple cycles or may have to be placed in multiple spots to get the full benefit.

Another point of consideration is does the user need to decontaminate only surfaces? Are you in a space that requires both air and surface decontamination? Many new techniques provide antimicrobial control for both.

The efficacy of the decontamination method you choose depends on a number of factors, some of which are intrinsic qualities of the organism, others of which are the chemical and external physical environment. Awareness of these factors is a must in choosing the type of decontamination method.

You must also consider that some viruses, bacteria, and mold spores may be resistant to disinfectants due to thick masses of cells, extracellular materials, or biofilms. Biofilms are microbial communities that are tightly attached to surfaces and cannot be easily removed. Once these masses form, anything within them can be resistant to decontamination. Chlorine and monochloramines can effectively inactivate biofilm bacteria.

What about all that expensive hospital equipment? Can you apply the product on it? Can you decontaminate computers, x-ray machines, etc. or will the plastics corrode?

There are many things to consider when choosing a decontamination method that is right for your facility. Other than efficacy, dwell time, and type of technology, it is vital to consider other factors such as: will the decontamination product produce an odor offensive to patients and staff? 

Yes, things have certainly changed in the healthcare environment – patient safety is of the utmost importance and Rolyn Healthcare makes sure that that priority remains #1.

About the Author

Rick Cantore
Senior Healthcare Consultant

In a crisis, you need rapid response from a company with the skills and experience required to handle any type of disaster.

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