A clean clinic is a safe clinic – infection control and prevention
With the recent infection scare at an Ottawa clinic, the importance of cleanliness in healthcare facilities is well founded. Patients may expect that clinics are as clean as hospitals, but clearly this isn’t the case. All clinics need to follow the proper cleaning methods, precautions and infection guidelines to ensure the prevention of infection to patients and the staff that work there.
This starts with implementing basic infection prevention and control practices that are performed by clinic health care providers and staff. Best cleaning practices PDF
Some of the infection control steps and/or education (taken from best practices PDF) should emphasize:
- disease transmission, the risks associated with infectious diseases and basic epidemiology of HAIs (Health Care-Associated Infections) specific to the setting;
- the benefits of case finding/surveillance and the extent and nature of existing and potential problems related to infection in the organization
- hand hygiene and basic personal hygiene, including the use of alcohol-based hand rubs and hand washing;
- principles and components of Routine Practices as well as additional transmission-based precautions;
- assessment of the risk of infection transmission and the appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE), including safe application, removal and disposal;
- appropriate cleaning and/or disinfection of health care equipment, supplies and surfaces or items in the health care environment (e.g., beds, bed tables, call bells, toilets, privacy curtains);
- aseptic practices; (procedure that is performed under sterile conditions.)
- the importance of proper and prudent use of antimicrobial agents (antibiotics);
- individual staff responsibility for keeping clients/patients/residents, themselves and coworkers safe;
- prevention of blood and body fluid exposure; and
- early recognition of symptoms of transmissible infections and outbreaks
Clinics should also address best practices for environmental cleaning for the prevention and control of infections. Proper control of the following environmental services and areas are recommended:
- handling of laundry
- waste management
- reprocessing of medical equipment
- food handling and storage
- facility design and construction
It is also important that the clinic staff have appropriate training to provide a clean and safe environment. The more people that have proper training makes it easier and more efficient to train new staff when needed. There also needs to be adequate staff to provide the amount of cleaning necessary on a regular schedule as well as extra environmental cleaning during outbreaks.
When choosing a medical clinic in Toronto, here are a few tips that may help:
- Research the physicians that work at the clinic, if they also work at local hospitals you know they are well trained and are up-to-date on all infection control practices.
- Search online for the clinic and look for reviews - a good overall rating from other patients could help you with your search. Most clinic reviews will mention how clean the clinic appeared as it is important for patients.
- Sometimes the closest clinic to you may not be the best choice. If your research includes clinics that are a bit further away – it may be worth the commute.
- On your first visit have a good look at the overall appearance, usually an under-staffed clinic may not be as tidy as staff are busy with many other tasks.
- Some clinics present a cleaning schedule checklist that shows how recent and thorough the clinic was cleaned. This is a good sign the staff take cleanliness seriously and are well organized to do so. If records are not visible you could ask to see them and if there are none available, it may be a warning sign.
- Finally take note of how the staff treat you on the first visit – it is a good sign they take pride in their work and surroundings if they are friendly and helpful with you.
Bphealth clinics take infection control very seriously and welcome your questions regarding our best practices and procedures.