According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) are a leading cause of death in the U.S. healthcare arena, with an overall estimated annual incidence of 1.7 million cases and 100,000 deaths. HAIs in U.S. hospitals generate an estimated $28.4 billion to $45 billion in excess healthcare costs annually. Furthermore, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will no longer provide reimbursement over and above the typical Inpatient Prospective Payment System rate for care required to battle HAIs.
The fact of the matter is hospitals are mandated to clean up their act and get HAIs under control, especially now that Medicare and other insurers are not reimbursing hospitals for treating HAIs. Some hospitals have successfully lowered their HAI rate by taking measures to clean their facilities thoroughly and regularly. Part of that cleaning process includes disinfecting common-touch surfaces such as keyboards and mice.
And now that requirement is reaching beyond the hospital. Last year the CDC traced a viral outbreak in the Washington, DC, school district directly to a computer keyboard. Schools across the nation are facing issues with students being infected with this Super Bug, and many of those students are dying as a result of that infection. The cost to clean up AFTER THE FACT is enormous and not typically included in the school budget. How much less expensive it is to make a small purchase now that can easily help eliminate one source of cross-contamination.
Hospital Acquired Infections Hurt Hospital Profitability
Hospital infections affect two million Americans every year, costing 100,000 lives and adding $30.5 billion to the nation’s healthcare tab,” said Betsy McCaughey, Ph.D., founder and chairman of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths (RID).
Where do those numbers come from? The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicate that approximately 2,000,000 cases of hospital acquired infections (HAIs) occur each year. Each HAI adds approximately $15,000 to the cost of treating the patient, over and above the costs associated with treating the problem that brought them to the hospital in the first place. Simple math makes that a $30 billion problem.
Research shows that eliminating infections can result in a 20-to-1 payback for the hospital within the first year alone, with no or minimal capital outlay. “Good infection control can make the difference between profitability and loss for an individual hospital,” McCaughey said. Hospitals in Virginia, Pennsylvania and Iowa realized significant reductions in infection rates through simple screening programs and rigorous enforcement of staff and equipment hygiene procedures.
What is on those keyboards?
That was the question asked in a recent study conducted in the Cleveland VA Medical Center.
In 2002, the Cleveland VA Medical Center experienced a large outbreak of the epidemic strain of C difficile. After steps to isolate and disinfect the rooms more effectively and to retrain housekeeping to improve their disinfecting methods, the Center found that while the CDI infection rate was reduced, it was not reduced to the baseline levels seen before the outbreak. As a result, the Center hypothesized that there might be hidden reservoirs of the bacteria on surfaces outside of the CDI isolation rooms that could contribute to transmission. Environmental surfaces were tested in nursing stations, physician work areas and on portable equipment.
Here is what they found:
- 73% of isolates tested had ribotype patterns detected in stool samples from CDI patients
- 50% of these were epidemic, binary toxin-positive strains
- 67% of the isoates from the ward environment were epidemic strains
- 26% of desktop computers were contaminated with toxin-producing C difficile
Spraying is Not Enough
“Most EPA-registered disinfectants suggest a 10-minute dwell time. Otherwise, the disinfectant may not be as effective. One concern about current disinfecting practices is the use of spray bottles to disperse the chemical to the contaminated surface. Spraying a surface followed by a quick wipe with a paper towel is not sufficient to reduce bioload. Only germs that come in direct contact with disinfectant will be killed, which typically takes four applications of spray on a surface to properly kill microorganisms.”
So says Dannette Young Heeth, CEH, NREMT-B, director of medical treatment facilities at Aztec Facility Management, Houston. She goes on to say, “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that in the United States, as many as one in 10 patients, or 2 million patients a year, acquire a nosocomial infection; of those patients, about 90,000 die as a result of the infection. One third of nosocomial infections are considered preventable, and can be directly related to the standard of practice in infection control cleaning techniques.
With well-defined cleaning protocols and a good in-service training program, reduction of microorganisms will promote a healthy environment for patients, visitors, cleaning staff and healthcare workers.”
Wash the Keyboard and Mouse to Completely Disinfect
Well-defined cleaning protocols include regularly washing surfaces we touch often, and that includes keyboards and mice. Wash my keyboard? Wash my mouse? Can I do that? Not with most keyboards and mice. Even the so-called spill proof keyboards can take only a limited amount of moisture before they just stop working.
Spill-Proof is not Waterproof
Only Seal Shield™ keyboards and mice with Silver Seal™ protection meet the tough IP68 submersibility standards. These keyboards and mice use the exclusive Seal Shield waterproofing technology that make the the only fully submersible and dishwasher safe products on the market. These keyboards can even be washed in a diluted bleach solution to disinfect the board thoroughly. Seal Shield keyboards and mice are Silver Seal protected. They contain an antimicrobial, fungistatic agent which protects the product and keeps it cleaner, greener and fresher by inhibiting the growth of microbial bacteria, mold, mildew and fungi on the product's surface.