With heightened awareness of pathogenic spread and the call for social distancing, we are being reminded daily that direct contact is not the only way to infect people; indirect contact is another.
This is especially true in healthcare.
An article published by Becker’s details a list of 10 hospital objects that breed infection-causing bacteria There are quite a few items you may not expect on the list, among them beds, privacy curtains, and tables, all of which are considered high touch surfaces.
Pathogen lifespan on high touch surfaces
A 2010 study determined that surfaces such as bed rails, bed surfaces, medical supply carts, patient tables, and IV pumps were all high touch surfaces (i.e., surfaces handled various times by multiple people).The danger of high touch surfaces is dependent upon how long the bacteria or virus can exist outside of the body.
Something like the rhinovirus (which causes the common cold) only lives for about an hour depending on the surface material. However, the norovirus (which causes vomiting and diarrhea) can last up to seven days. High touch surfaces are one reason we all need to remember to wash our hands regularly and thoroughly throughout the day.
As we travel from surface to patient to surface, the virus or bacteria may follow which is why hand hygiene and distancing are so important. However, it’s paramount that high touch surfaces are also disinfected and cleaned to lower the risk of further infection.
CDC guidance on disinfection
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a long list of recommendations for cleaning various high touch surfaces. For radiology, these high touch surfaces are the non-critical equipment shared between patients (i.e., such as IV poles, commode chairs, blood pressure cuffs, wheelchairs, stethoscopes, imaging beds, and table straps).
Image Source: "Best Practices for Environmental Cleaning in Healthcare Facilities in Resource-Limited Settings"; CDC, November 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/hai/pdfs/resource-limited/environmental-cleaning-508.pdf
In an RSNA publication (Microbiology for Radiologists) states that “decontamination of noncritical items should occur after every use and includes either washing with soap and water or disinfecting with an intermediate- or low-level product.”
However, some surfaces are harder to clean than others.
Table straps for imaging beds are notorious for acquiring stains and fluids over time; but are necessary for keeping the patient in place for their imaging exam and reducing motion artifact.
Jessica Cloward, MRI Supervisor, Salt Lake City VA Medical Center, described how difficult it was to be 100% confident that her table straps were clean.
“We used bleach wipes to clean the Velcro straps, but they still got stained. Even with the bleach wipes we really couldn’t get into the hook and loop material. I didn’t think it was getting cleaned all the way through. You can’t send the table straps out to get laundered or they might not come back. Wiping them down was really the only way we can clean them.”
How can imaging teams minimize the likelihood of infection spread between patients while keeping them still?
A disposable solution for patient stabilization
A single patient use disposable alternative to stabilization straps can help mitigate the likelihood of spreading nosocomial infection.
The iFIX patient stabilization system was designed to reduce both the risk of patient movement and cross-contamination via a mix of disposable and reusable parts.
The disposable iFIX Fleece hugs and contours to the patient anatomy and is held in place by reusable iFIX anchors that are attached to the imaging table. The Fleece is discarded after each patient use and may lower the risk of cross-contamination when compared with other stabilization methods.
Ms. Cloward, who implemented iFIX in August 2019, told us, “iFIX is better because now we know that it's clean. It’s also helping our patients hold their arms in far better than the old gray strap. iFIX Fleece conforms to the patient anatomy and helps them stay in place and we’re seeing less motion. And when we’re done with the patient, we remove the fleece, and move on.”
Sarah Mager, a CT Supervisor in Connecticut, also switched to iFIX and wouldn’t even dream of returning to Velcro. “We don’t even use our old strap. It’s locked away in my cabinet and no one’s ever using it again. They're only using the iFIX. It’s disposable and cleaner. It keeps the patient still and I’m less concerned about potential rescans now.”
Stop asking yourself if your straps are clean. Contact your Beekley Medical Business Development Manager at 1.800.233.5539 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about implementing iFIX at your facility.
iFIX is distributed by Beekley Corporation to customers within the United States and its territories.