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If you can't clean it, don't buy it

If you can't clean it, don't buy it featured image

This blog was curated from a white paper publication entitled, "The Impact Furniture and IC+ Can Have On Infection Control" published by HealthCentric. Read entire publication here.

Infection control practices shape today’s health care environment. A shift is emerging in the mindset of hospitals and other health care environments fighting against healthcare associated infections (HAIs). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "In 2011, there were an estimated 722,000 HAIs and around 75,000 hospital patients with HAIs died during their hospitalizations." 

Kid wearing a mask in the dark-1

Image by Shutterstock

Most HAIs are transmitted through contact with pathogens transferred from reservoirs on hand-touch sites, found on high-risk objects including inpatient room chairs. Infection Control and Environmental Services professionals have brought to the forefront the importance of the physical environment, including furniture, and the role it plays in the prevent, acquisition, and spread of infections.

On the Surface

Infection Control professionals recommend medical furniture and products that are easy to clean and disinfect. Fixtures, finishes, and surfaces that are porous or textured such as wood or vinyl with seams are more difficult to clean effectively and may harbor unwanted pathogens, which contribute to an increased potential for contamination and infection.

According to A. Joseph in "The Impact of the Environment on Infections in Healthcare Facilities, "Ease of cleaning is an important consideration in the choice of materials used in health care facilities, and this extends to floors, ceilings, walls as wells as furniture and furnishings." Furniture and equipment selection is an especially important factor when considering immunocompromised patients because of their increased susceptibility to HAIs.

Best Practice Guide for Cleaning in All Health Care Settings

The Prevention of Infectious Disease Advisory Committee (PIDAC) based in Ontario, Canada has created best practice guidelines for cleaning in all health care settings that has been adopted by many organizations around the world. Important furniture surface characteristics in health care setting include:

  • Furnishings should be easy to maintain and repair
  • Fabrics that are torn allow for entry of microorganisms and cannot properly be cleaned
  • Items that are scratched or chipped allow for accumulation of microorganisms and more difficult to clean and disinfect
  • Furnishings must be able to withstand cleaning and be compatible with hospital-grade detergents, cleaners and disinfectants
  • Upholstered furniture must be covered with fabrics that are fluid-resistant and non-porous
Inability to Support Microbial Growth
  • Materials such as fabric and wood that hold moisture are more likely to support microbial growth
  • Materials such as metal and hard plastics are less likely to support microbial growth
  • Wet organic substrates (e.g. wood) should be avoided in hospital areas with immunocompromised patients
Surface Porosity
  • Microorganisms have been shown to survive on porous fabrics such as cotton, cotton terry, nylon and polyester, and on plastics which are considered porous substrates
  • Porous upholstered furniture should not be used in care areas, particularly in areas with immunocompromised patients
Absence of Seams
  • Seams trap bacteria and are difficult areas to clean

When selecting medical furniture, products, and equipment, it is important to know how surfaces and finishes interact with hospital-grade cleaners, detergents and disinfectants. Often, hospital-grade vinyl used commonly on furniture and treatment equipment will crack or tear creating an entrance for pathogens. Wood products and finishes are porous, can be easily damaged, and can erode leaving the wood vulnerable to microbial growth. Seams in hospital furniture and equipment can harbor pathogens even after being cleaned and disinfected in accordance with proper cleaning standards. So what is the best infection control solution?

Infection Control Products

PHS Medical manufactures a variety of durable medical equipment solutions and products to support appropriate infection control measures including treatment tables, mat tables, modality carts, treatment cabinets, recovery carts, staircases (coming soon), whirlpool tables, stationary cabinets, base and wall cabinets, portable workstations, electric treatment tableselevating treatment tables and electric treatment cabinets. Our products are functional and easy to clean and disinfect including our steel Hi-Lo electric tables and our aluminum-based Aluma Elite product line.

A4383-(Modality Cart2)_600


Aluma Elite Modality Cart

Godspeed-(Aluma Elite Pro Treatment Table)_600

Aluma Elite PRO Treatment Table

Wittenberg University-(Aluma Elite Mat Table1)_600

Aluma Elite Mat Table

View all steel and aluminum products we recommend for Infection Control.

View All Infection Control Products