Keeping your practice sterile and germ-free
Even though spring is in the air, influenza and Covid germs are sadly still lurking. Not to mention the other illnesses that inevitably wander through a medical centre. Healthcare design and fit-out company Evoke Projects reminds us of best practice in maintaining a sterile and germ-free environment.
Develop a cleaning schedule for the entire practice
Develop a cleaning schedule for the entire medical practice, including waiting rooms, examination rooms, treatment rooms, hallways and staff areas. As germs are wandering in all the time, on shoes, hands and people coughing and sneezing, regular cleans with disinfectant wipes will prevent the spread of infection and protect the safety and well-being of patients and staff.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has a comprehensive web page outlining the best cleaning agents and cleaning frequency for different surface types.1 It also has a practice cleaning schedule template that you can download. To remind us how important regular cleaning is, there are examples of the persistence of microorganisms on dry surfaces. For example, norovirus can persist for up to seven days while staphylococcus aureus can persist for up to seven months.
Disinfect the disinfectant
Hand sanitiser pumps and soap dispensers harbour the germs of all the people that use them. Wipe them down regularly with disinfectant.
Hand hygiene and PPE reminders
Although it is second nature for healthcare staff to maintain good hand hygiene and wear PPE, complacency can easily set in, particularly as we embrace the warmer months.
Sterilisation protocol signage
Ensure the sterilisation protocols for the medical practice are clearly communicated with good signage. Casual medical staff may not be familiar with your protocols around autoclaving or chemical sterilisation.
Single-use items, such as disposable paper covers on examination beds, reduce the risk to patients. Take care not to become complacent in the adjacent areas. For example, the surface of the examination bed should still be wiped down after each patient.
Effective waste disposal
The RACGP stipulates that a practice’s waste management policy must cover:
- the correct segregation of waste according to the waste streams designated by the state or territory
- storage of waste
- disposal of waste
- work health and safety procedures
- who is responsible for monitoring waste management and educating and training staff to correctly follow waste management procedures.
Their website has excellent detail around each of these requirements.2
Take a critical look at the health and hygiene posters around your practice. Have they been there since Covid first graced our shores? If so, check how up-to-date they are. Patients and staff are more likely to take notice of new signs.
How does your medical design impact hygiene?
- Staying up to date with the latest guidelines from your state or territory is important to ensure your medical design and fit-out complies with regulations.
- A good ventilation system with clean air filtration can help reduce germs in the air. Plants are also great for natural air purification.
- A medical design with smooth furniture surfaces, antimicrobial materials and easily accessible cleaning supplies makes it easier to keep your healthcare practice clean.
- Touch-free sanitising stations and dispensers with anti-bacterial wipes are already a mainstay of most medical designs – keeping them refilled is your aim. Paper towels are more hygienic than hand dryers for the bathrooms.
- Touch-free entrance and exit points can be arranged during your next medical fit-out or refurbishment.
- Natural materials and textures can aid in more hygienic healthcare interior design. Bamboo and copper are both hygienic and environmentally friendly. Bamboo contains a natural antimicrobial agent called bamboo kun.
For medical design and fit-out ideas for a more hygienic healthcare practice, please call Evoke Projects on 1300 720 692.