Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are the most common adverse outcomes due to delivery of medical care. HAIs increase morbidity and mortality, prolong hospital stay, and are associated with additional healthcare costs. Contaminated surfaces, particularly those that are touched frequently, act as reservoirs for pathogens and contribute towards pathogen transmission. Therefore, healthcare hygiene requires a comprehensive approach whereby different strategies may be implemented together, next to targeted, risk-based approaches, in order to reduce the risk of HAIs for patients. This approach includes hand hygiene in conjunction with environmental cleaning and disinfection of surfaces and clinical equipment. This review focuses on routine environmental cleaning and disinfection including areas with a moderate risk of contamination, such as general wards. As scientific evidence has not yet resulted in universally accepted guidelines nor led to universally accepted practical recommendations pertaining to surface cleaning and disinfection, this review provides expert guidance for healthcare workers in their daily practice. It also covers outbreak situations and suggests practical guidance for clinically relevant pathogens. Key elements of environmental cleaning and disinfection, including a fundamental clinical risk assessment, choice of appropriate disinfectants and cleaning equipment, definitions for standardized cleaning processes and the relevance of structured training, are reviewed in detail with a focus on practical topics and implementation.
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The authors wish to thank Professor Stephanie Dancer (NHS Lanarkshire, Glasgow, UK) for critically reviewing and commenting on the manuscript. Assistance with medical writing was provided by Dr Julia Dittmann (Dittmann Medical Writing, Hamburg, Germany) and financed by BODE Chemie GmbH, a company of the HARTMANN group (Hamburg, Germany).
© 2021 The Authors