Curtains still remain the most popular means of offering patient privacy in multi-patient hospital rooms today. Have you ever considered the link between privacy curtains and infection control in a medical environment? The purpose of the curtain is to provide privacy to the patient during personal procedures and care as well as to provide some amount of shelter for rest from what is often a busy and noisy environment. However, curtains may also be a means to transmit germs and infections if they are not managed properly.
Constructed from fabric, the curtains require constant change-out and laundering, however, due to the time limitations and the effort required in washing conventional curtains, this is often bypassed. Standard curtain washing is a challenge. Curtains within a facility are often purchased in custom sizes, making it difficult to find the one you need amongst piles and piles of different sized curtains.
Studies have shown that curtains can harbour pathogenic bacteria, and that 92% of hospital curtains become contaminated within a timeframe of one week. Healthcare workers frequently touch privacy curtains AFTER performing hand hygiene but BEFORE patient care making it almost impossible NOT to pass germs from privacy curtains to the hands of a healthcare worker.
Healthcare associated infections not only increase patient suffering and cause preventable deaths; they also place an extensive burden on healthcare workers and the healthcare system. Within the field, significant efforts have been made to reduce the number of healthcare related infections by focusing on one primary tried-and-true strategy – hand washing. Hand hygiene is inarguably crucial to infection control and prevention. Cleaning is also important but has received far less attention and resources. Washing hands is important, but if bacteria and viruses are not eliminated from the environment, hands will quickly become contaminated again.
The costs associated with preventing these healthcare related infections are exceptionally lower than the costs of treating them. Hospitals and healthcare centres with multi-bed wards or overcapacity issues need to create a pleasing, private, and hygienic environment for patients.
Here are a few practices that can help reduce the possibility of infections and control the spread of bacteria in your environment:
- Consider using disposable curtains in high traffic areas such as emergency, or where infection control is critical.
- Review your curtain requirements and wherever possible standardize on size variance. Make it easier for staff to change curtains without the fear of wasting time trying to find proper sizes. Use a system that is easily changed by staff.
- Consider standardizing the design/color of your curtains on an annual basis and throughout the facility. This will ensure the curtains are also “retired” on a regular basis. Did you know that curtains can lose their fire safety properties and actually become dangerous over time?
Belroc offers a variety of standard, disposable, and custom curtains and track system to assist through a faster, safer, and simpler hospital curtain change out process.
Source: New feed