There has been extensive outsourcing of hospital cleaning services in the NHS in England, in part because of the potential to reduce costs. Yet some argue that this leads to lower hygiene standards and more infections, such as MRSA and, perhaps because of this, the Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Irish health services have rejected outsourcing. This study evaluates whether contracting out cleaning services in English acute hospital Trusts (legal authorities that run one or more hospitals) is associated with risks of hospital-borne MRSA infection and lower economic costs. By linking data on MRSA incidence per 100,000 hospital bed-days with surveys of cleanliness among patient and staff in 126 English acute hospital Trusts during 2010-2014, we find that outsourcing cleaning services was associated with greater incidence of MRSA, fewer cleaning staff per hospital bed, worse patient perceptions of cleanliness and staff perceptions of availability of handwashing facilities. However, outsourcing was also associated with lower economic costs (without accounting for additional costs associated with treatment of hospital acquired infections).
The aim of this study was to determine the cumulative effect of a routine (hot-to-) cold shower on sickness, quality of life and work productivity.
Evaluation and feedback of hand hygiene (HH) compliance are important elements of the WHO multimodal strategy for hospital infection control. Overt observation is recommended, but it may be confounded by Hawthorne effect. Covert observation offers the opportunity to decrease observer bias. In this study we conducted a one year hospital-wide HH promotion program that included medical students (MS) as covert observers.
Environmental disinfection has become the new frontier in the ongoing battle to reduce the risk of health care-associated infections. Evidence demonstrating the persistent contamination of environmental surfaces despite traditional cleaning and disinfection methods has led to the widespread acceptance that there is both a need for reassessing traditional cleaning protocols and for using secondary disinfection technologies. Ultraviolet-C (UV-C) disinfection is one type of no-touch technology shown to be a successful adjunct to manual cleaning in reducing environmental bioburden. The dilemma for the infection preventionist, however, is how to choose the system best suited for their facility among the many UV-C surface disinfection delivery systems available and how to build a case for acquisition to present to the hospital administration/C-suite. This article proposes an approach to these dilemmas based in part on the experience of 2 health care networks.
Proper management of fecal sludge has significant positive health and environmental externalities. Most research on managing onsite sanitation so far either simulates the costs of, or the welfare effects from, managing sludge in situ in pit latrines. Thus, designing management strategies for onsite rural sanitation is challenging, because the actual costs of transporting sludge for treatment, and sources for financing these transport costs, are not well understood.
The obstetrics-gynecology community has issued a call to action to prevent toxic environmental chemical exposures and their threats to healthy human reproduction. Recent committee opinions recognize that vulnerable and underserved women may be impacted disproportionately by environmental chemical exposures and recommend that reproductive health professionals champion policies that secure environmental justice. Beauty product use is an understudied source of environmental chemical exposures. Beauty products can include reproductive and developmental toxicants such as phthalates and heavy metals; however, disclosure requirements are limited and inconsistent. Compared with white women, women of color have higher levels of beauty product-related environmental chemicals in their bodies, independent of socioeconomic status. Even small exposures to toxic chemicals during critical periods of development (such as pregnancy) can trigger adverse health consequences (such as impacts on fertility and pregnancy, neurodevelopment, and cancer). In this commentary, we seek to highlight the connections between environmental justice and beauty product-related chemical exposures. We describe racial/ethnic differences in beauty product use (such as skin lighteners, hair straighteners, and feminine hygiene products) and the potential chemical exposures and health risks that are associated with these products. We also discuss how targeted advertising can take advantage of mainstream beauty norms to influence the use of these products. Reproductive health professionals can use this information to advance environmental justice by being prepared to counsel patients who have questions about toxic environmental exposures from beauty care products and other sources. Researchers and healthcare providers can also promote health-protective policies such as improved ingredient testing and disclosure for the beauty product industry. Future clinical and public health research should consider beauty product use as a factor that may shape health inequities in women’s reproductive health across the life course.
Fragranced consumer products-such as air fresheners, cleaning supplies, and personal care products- pervade society. This study investigated the occurrence and types of adverse effects associated with exposure to fragranced products in Australia, and opportunities for prevention. Data were collected in June 2016 using an on-line survey with a representative national sample (n = 1098). Overall, 33% of Australians report health problems, such as migraine headaches and asthma attacks, when exposed to fragranced products. Of these health effects, more than half (17.1%) could be considered disabling under the Australian Disability Discrimination Act. Additionally, 7.7% of Australians have lost workdays or a job due to illness from fragranced product exposure in the workplace, 16.4% reported health problems when exposed to air fresheners or deodorizers, 15.3% from being in a room after it was cleaned with scented products, and 16.7% would enter but then leave a business as quickly as possible due to fragranced products. About twice as many respondents would prefer that workplaces, health care facilities and professionals, hotels, and airplanes were fragrance-free rather than fragranced. While 73.7% were not aware that fragranced products, even ones called green and organic, emitted hazardous air pollutants, 56.3% would not continue to use a product if they knew it did. This is the first study in Australia to assess the extent of adverse effects associated with exposure to common fragranced products. It provides compelling evidence for the importance and value of reducing fragranced product exposure in order to reduce and prevent adverse health effects and costs.
While sanitation interventions have focused primarily on child health, women’s unique health risks from inadequate sanitation are gaining recognition as a priority issue. This study examines the range of sanitation-related psychosocial stressors during routine sanitation practices in Odisha, India. Between August 2013 and March 2014, we conducted in-depth interviews with 56 women in four life stages: adolescent, newly married, pregnant and established adult women in three settings: urban slums, rural villages and indigenous villages. Using a grounded theory approach, the study team transcribed, translated, coded and discussed interviews using detailed analytic memos to identify and characterize stressors at each life stage and study site. We found that sanitation practices encompassed more than defecation and urination and included carrying water, washing, bathing, menstrual management, and changing clothes. During the course of these activities, women encountered three broad types of stressors-environmental, social, and sexual-the intensity of which were modified by the woman’s life stage, living environment, and access to sanitation facilities. Environmental barriers, social factors and fears of sexual violence all contributed to sanitation-related psychosocial stress. Though women responded with small changes to sanitation practices, they were unable to significantly modify their circumstances, notably by achieving adequate privacy for sanitation-related behaviors. A better understanding of the range of causes of stress and adaptive behaviors is needed to inform context-specific, gender-sensitive sanitation interventions.
To evaluate the relative efficacy of the World Health Organization 2005 campaign (WHO-5) and other interventions to promote hand hygiene among healthcare workers in hospital settings and to summarize associated information on use of resources.
Deficiencies in the sterile processing of medical instruments contribute to poor outcomes for patients, such as surgical site infections, longer hospital stays, and deaths. In low resources settings, such as some rural and semi-rural areas and secondary and tertiary cities of developing countries, deficiencies in sterile processing are accentuated due to the lack of access to sterilization equipment, improperly maintained and malfunctioning equipment, lack of power to operate equipment, poor protocols, and inadequate quality control over inventory. Inspired by our sterile processing fieldwork at a district hospital in Sierra Leone in 2013, we built an autonomous, shipping-container-based sterile processing unit to address these deficiencies. The sterile processing unit, dubbed “the sterile box,” is a full suite capable of handling instruments from the moment they leave the operating room to the point they are sterile and ready to be reused for the next surgery. The sterile processing unit is self-sufficient in power and water and features an intake for contaminated instruments, decontamination, sterilization via non-electric steam sterilizers, and secure inventory storage. To validate efficacy, we ran tests of decontamination and sterilization performance. Results of 61 trials validate convincingly that our sterile processing unit achieves satisfactory outcomes for decontamination and sterilization and as such holds promise to support healthcare facilities in low resources settings.