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04/01/2014 04:42 EDT | Updated 04/01/2014 04:59 EDT

Hospital Germs: Report Finds Canadian Facilities Aren't 'Sufficiently Clean'

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A new report looking at the cleanliness of Canadian hospitals found almost half of infection control practitioners thought their places of work were't clean enough.

Conducted by researcher Dr. Dick Zoutman of Queens University, 40 per cent of people who work to keep hospitals clean believed their facilities weren't suitable for infection control needs.

Zoutman's team looked at the relationship between Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) teams and Environmental Services (EVS) teams and how they impacted antibiotic-resistant organism rates. For example, researchers looked at infections like Staphylococcus aureus (or Staph aureus), and how easily it spread from health practitioner to patient. According to the research, it can be spread from a healthcare worker to a patient by an action as routine as lifting a patient onto a bed.

In 2011, some of these professionals across Canada filled out an online survey looking at the relationship between IPAC and EVS.

“Overall, this study shows that the environment of a hospital plays a huge role in healthcare and infection control,” says Dr. Zoutman in a statement."Cleaning is a very expensive part of a hospital budget – about three to five per cent -- and we had no baseline research to analyze our approach to cleanliness."

Spreading germs, especially in hospitals, can be scarily easy. Canada.com notes C. difficile spores, for example, can be spread just by touching contaminated surfaces like door handles, toilets or bed rails.

And as much as health professionals prefer working in clean environments, one survey by the CBC reported Canadians in general found patient rooms and bathrooms to be dirty as well. Some relatives of patients found themselves wiping down their hospital rooms themselves or requesting bedsheet changes.

Zoutman says hospital administrations and provincial ministries need to pay more attention to hospital environments, and not just throw money at the problem.

"We need to apply some science to the art of cleaning a hospital," he says.

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