Sterilization and Disinfection Protocols for Hospitals

Sterilization and Disinfection Protocols for Hospitals

hospital disinfected by UV light
UV light disinfection in hospitals can destroy airborne viruses and other pathogens throughout the building.

UV light disinfection is widely used in hospitals to sterilize and disinfect. Specifically, UVC light in the UV spectrum has germicidal properties that effectively destroy harmful organisms like bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It even works against multidrug-resistant organisms that are hard to eliminate with traditional methods.

As hospital directors and managers, you are tasked with ensuring the safety of your facility’s patients, staff members, and visitors. To do this effectively requires two things: first, understanding proper sterilization and disinfection guidelines as required by federal and state regulations.  Secondly, implementing an effective air and surface cleaning regimen to protect all individuals who enter your hospital from infectious disease threats.

By adding UV light air disinfection to manual cleaning, hospitals can greatly improve the overall cleanliness of their environments. Find out how we can help your facility improve air disinfection with our specialized UV light system. Contact us for a quote today.

Sterilization versus Disinfection in Hospital Settings

While the terms are often used interchangeably, there are significant differences between the procedures and outcomes of sterilization and disinfection.

  • Sterilization: This is an overall cleaning process that eliminates all forms of microbial life, including bacteria, viruses, spores, and fungi. In a hospital setting, sterilization is used on surgical instruments, catheters, or any other device that will have direct contact with the patient’s bloodstream or sterile tissue. The most common methods for sterilization in hospitals include heat (steam or dry heat), chemicals (ethylene oxide, hydrogen peroxide), and irradiation.
  • Disinfection: Disinfection is a process that kills or inactivates most, but not all, pathogenic microorganisms. Unlike sterilization, it may not kill certain bacterial spores. Disinfection is generally used for cleaning surfaces that do not directly contact the patient’s sterile tissue or bloodstream, such as floors or bed rails. Techniques for disinfection in hospitals typically include the use of disinfectants like alcohol, chlorine, formaldehyde, or UV light disinfection.

Both methods are critical in maintaining a healthy hospital environment, and understanding the differences between them is vital to ensuring patients receive the best possible care.

Physical Items in Hospitals that Require Sterilization or Disinfection

There are three distinct categories of items that require different levels of disinfection: critical, semicritical, and noncritical items.

  • Critical Items: These are items that enter sterile tissues, including the bloodstream. They carry a high potential for causing infection if they are not sterilized. Examples include surgical instruments, cardiac catheters, and implants. These items must undergo a sterilization process (like steam under pressure, dry heat, or sterilizing gases) to eliminate all forms of bacteria, viruses, spores, and fungi.
  • Semicritical Items: Semicritical items are those that come into contact with non-intact skin or mucous membranes, but do not penetrate them. These items must at least be high-level disinfected, which kills all organisms except high levels of bacterial spores. Examples include respiratory therapy equipment, endoscopes, and some types of surgical instruments. High-level disinfectants include glutaraldehyde, hydrogen peroxide, and peracetic acid.
  • Noncritical Items: These items come into contact with skin, but not mucous membranes. The skin can generally act as an effective barrier to most microbes, so these items carry a lower risk of infection transmission. Examples include bed linens, blood pressure cuffs, and crutches. These items require low-level disinfection, which kills most bacteria, some viruses, and some fungi; but cannot be relied on to kill resistant microorganisms (like tubercle bacillus) or bacterial spores. Low-level disinfectants include quaternary ammonium compounds (“quats”), phenolics, and some iodophors.

Considering the Importance of Air Disinfection in Hospitals

Disinfecting and sterilizing surfaces and physical items is critical, and ensuring clean air is equally vital. Air disinfection in hospitals is highly significant in preventing the spread of diseases, infections, and viruses that can easily be transmitted through the air. It not only kills harmful airborne microbes but also reduces the risks of spreading germs via recirculating air.

  • Mold Spores in the Air: UV light hospital disinfection is exceptionally effective at destroying mold spores in the air. These airborne spores, if inhaled, can cause a range of health issues, particularly in ill patients with weakened immune systems. The UV-C light eradicates these spores, significantly reducing the risk of mold-related health problems. This protection extends to hospital staff and visitors, safeguarding them against potential respiratory illnesses and allergies triggered by mold spores.
  • Respiratory Viruses: Respiratory viruses, such as the flu and other airborne diseases, pose a significant threat in hospital environments. These viruses can easily spread from person to person through air, especially in enclosed spaces. UV light disinfection can inactivate these viruses, rendering them harmless. This ensures the protection of hospital staff, patients, and visitors from the spread of these contagious diseases.
  • Airborne Bacteria: Airborne bacteria are prevalent in hospitals, posing an infection risk to patients, staff, and visitors. UV light disinfection technology effectively kills these bacteria, improving the air quality and making the hospital environment safer. This is especially crucial for ill patients who are vulnerable to bacterial infections, helping to minimize their recovery times and improve their overall health outcomes.

As such, investing in UV light air disinfection technology for hospitals should be a top priority to ensure the safety and well-being of all patients, staff, and visitors.

Incorporating UV Light Indoor Air Disinfection into Your Cleaning Protocols

Maintaining a clean and germ-free hospital is required by state and federal health and safety regulations. However, traditional cleaning methods may not always eliminate all hidden pathogens, particularly those that are airborne. By incorporating a UV light disinfection system into your hospital cleaning protocols, you can enhance your hospital’s sterilization and disinfection plan by eliminating over 99% of airborne pathogens.

Unlike conventional cleaning products, UV light disinfection provides a chemical-free solution that kills germs without leaving any residue. It is safe for use on almost any surface and can be applied in any indoor space such as patient rooms, waiting areas, and operating rooms.

Automated and Continuous UV Light Disinfection Systems in Hospitals

At Farlite Solutions, our cutting-edge technology provides a reliable and cost-effective solution for eliminating all types of airborne bacteria and viruses from your hospital environment. We can provide you with a customized quote for UV light disinfection that meets your specific needs. Find out how we can help you become Farlite-protected today.