Checking Up on Room-Cleaning Checklists

By Steve Barrett
Thursday, November 1, 2018

The germs, like the devil, are in the details when it comes to cleaning hospital rooms after patients are discharged, new research suggests.

Summit Health in Pennsylvania conducted a review of the 175-point checklist the environmental services team uses to guide terminal room cleaning. By most counts, the checklist proved thorough and effective in eliminating contamination. Virtually all surfaces on the checklist passed, including the dry-erase white boards.

Not on the list, however, were markers and erasers used on the white boards, according to findings presented at the 45th Annual Conference of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.

Fifty-five patient rooms were cleaned, prepared and inspected. From those rooms, 52 erasers and 39 markers were tested for adenosine triphosphate, which can indicate biological residues are present. Only two erasers passed. None of the markers did.

“Both the markers and erasers tested at 40 times the threshold,” Ericka Kalp, PhD, MPH, CIC, FAPIC, lead study author and Director of Epidemiology and Infection Prevention at Summit Health, states in a news release about the findings. “Because these are a main communication tool for nurses, cleaning them properly is of great significance to improving infection prevention.”

For items that did not pass, the infection preventionist demonstrated the necessary cleaning technique to environmental services staff. Erasers and markers have since been added to the checklist.