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Wash Your hands… Then What?

Dr. Helene Paxton

MS, MT(ASCP), PhD, CIC, Professor of Biosciences

Dealing with the COVID-19 Pandemic has taught us all that we were not prepared for this occurrence.

Handwashing is the Bain of our existence in healthcare. Before the COVID-19 pandemic the adherence to handwashing was often lower than 42% across institutions. The Joint Commission and CMS have always made handwashing a major emphasis of their facility evaluations, yet healthcare providers continued to be challenged to achieve compliance. The COVID-19 Pandemic has certainly changed the landscape for handwashing, and again, we struggle to remain pathogen free due to the numbers of occurrences or opportunities where hand hygiene is
desired.

As we continue in the health care arena, we must reconsider how we manage our
patients as well as our devices and how our hands continually get re-contaminated. We do not have robust protocols for how to handle and disinfect our devices and tools as we practice our medical specialties and care for our patients.

The data suggests that we all touch our faces at least twenty times per hour and that 42% of the time there is a direct interaction between portable equipment or other
fomites and patients.³ We touch inanimate objects, we touch soft and hard surfaces, sometimes we wash our hands. The use of bedside equipment and the disinfection thereof, has traditionally been with disinfectant wipes, and more wipes. Issues with wipes are confusing…What do we use, when do we use it, on what surface, for how long [wet time], and does it make a difference? Our patients are using wipes too claiming 99.9% effectiveness against minor bacteria, do they really make a difference in their homes? Are we just spreading more bacteria and viruses? Are we damaging electronic equipment and giving ourselves a false sense of security?

Electronic devices, point of care tools, etc. are all used on multiple patients. Staff handle them with their hands or contaminated gloves and rarely does anyone consider this in their daily practice. Both independent testing and major hospital installations
have proven that the use of a rapid UVC decontamination system “RDS,” for Electronics, NonCritical Medical Tools, Personal Effects and Unopened Supplies can lower the endemic load of pathogens and reduce the opportunity for cross-contamination.

If we have learned only one thing from the recent Pandemic, it is that hand-hygiene alone is not enough.

The “RDS” system provides up to a 6 log kill of pathogens¹ and provides a large enough UVC dosage to terminate the SARs-CoV-2 ² virus in less than 30 Seconds. Using the “RDS” to compliment handwashing will result in reduced Healthcare Acquired Infections and a much safer environment leading to better patient outcomes.

References:
1. Independent Test Report, RDS-32a, May 12, 2021
2. Irradiation with UV light kills SARS-CoV-2, Medical Life Sciences: Sally Robertson, B.Sc. JUN 8,2020 New England Journal of Medicine. The Lancet Microbe: https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/09/how-touching-your-face-can-spread-viruses-and-why-youre-so-bad-at-avoiding-it/
3. . Quantitative assessment of interactions between hospitalized patients and portable medical equipment and other fomites. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajic.2017.05.003

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