Hygiena International has joined forces with the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust to provide them with a new weapon in the fight against healthcare associated infections (HAI).
The Hygiena SystemSURE Plus ATP monitoring system is now being widely used by trust quality monitoring officers, ward matrons and domestic supervisors to check the cleanliness of patient areas within hospitals. Previously, the trust has relied wholly on visual inspections of cleaning standards; now the handheld, lightweight Hygiena instruments can provide a numerical result in seconds to show how clean or dirty a surface is. This enables the trust to monitor the cleaning effectiveness of both the hospital environment and the many types of patient equipment in use.
The Hygiena SystemSURE Plus instruments were originally introduced by the trust’s infection prevention and control department and have been used for handwashing training for several years. Use of the tool has now spread throughout both hospitals, and staff and managers are happy to use it to help eliminate the risk of infection in their areas. It is a powerful tool, which has widespread applications throughout the healthcare sector to monitor areas such as sterile and catering services departments.
A monthly programme of hygiene inspections using the Hygiena SystemSURE Plus commenced within North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust in May 2007 and every clinical in-patient area now has routine swabbing undertaken on a monthly basis. The trust has also been proactive in using the handheld instruments for other more diverse purposes such as swabbing clogs within theatre, doctors’ pens and stethoscopes, and the ‘pods’ that are used to deliver various goods between wards and departments within the trust.
North Tees and Hartlepool Foundation Trust has subsequently appointed its own deep clean team of four people whose sole responsibility is deep cleaning. The individuals on the team have been specially trained in the use of steam cleaning and they wear special deep cleaning tabards which makes them highly visible on the wards. One of the biggest innovations has been the Hygiena SystemSURE hand-held monitor now used by the team to test the efficiency of cleaning techniques. As a result, the trust has reintroduced the basic soap and water method for cleaning most items.
The ATP method
The palm-sized SystemSURE instrument works by detecting the levels of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a biochemical found in all living organisms and biological residues. If ATP is detected on a cleaned surface it means that the cleaning was not effective and the surface is potentially a hazard for the spread of germs. The ATP method is quick, simple and easy to do. A swab is taken of the area to be tested and is then inserted into the hand held instrument. The result is interpreted automatically and can be displayed within a matter of seconds as a simple ‘pass’, ‘caution’ or ‘fail’ display.
The trust’s quality and performance manager Sue Shannon said, “We are delighted to be working with Hygiena to introduce this system. The ATP monitor provides immediate feedback on the efficiency of cleaning and assists us in identifying areas that could have previously been overlooked, such as the underside of tables and down the side of chairs, where it is difficult to physically see contamination.”
“The results give us the evidence we need as a quality monitoring department to tackle any problem areas and to produce reports for ward matrons on the cleanliness levels in their areas. More importantly it enables the domestic services department to provide assurance that areas are as clean and as germ-free as possible following cleaning, which is something we were previously unable to do, having relied purely on visual inspection. We have also used the hygiene devices to check the efficiency of various methods of cleaning. As a result of this, we have invested heavily in microfibre technology over the past 12 months as it has proven to be the most efficient method of cleaning virtually every patient contact surface,” added Ms Shannon.
The Hygiena SystemSURE Plus is successfully marketed throughout 80 countries worldwide. Combined with their Ultrasnap sampling devices, it has become the premier system for hygiene monitoring not only in the medical and healthcare markets, but also in food, cosmetics and pharmaceutical manufacture, and also water treatment when combined with their Aquasnap sampling device. The instrument incorporates photodiode technology and offers up to an 80% saving compared to competitors equipment. Simple keypad operation with LCD screen display is combined with storage capacity for 250 sites, a choice of 20 sampling plans and up to 50 named system users.