Every day, in every veterinary practice across North America, clinic professionals, clients, and patients are exposed to potential biohazards, causing illness or worse and possibly damaging the clinic’s reputation.
Even if practices have biohazard prevention protocols in place, there’s always room for improvement.
For instance, is every practice team doing all they can to prevent contamination from a patient just diagnosed with canine parvovirus? Is every surface protected, such as the exam table, testing equipment, and staff clothing? Is “clean” truly clean?
When a bite-wound patient comes into the practice after an encounter with a wild animal, is the staff following all necessary protective measures when moving that patient through the diagnosis-treatment-recovery-discharge sequence… removing their gloves, discarding used materials such as bandages, cleaning rags, and bedding, and so on?
We asked Sarah Bell-West, PhD, Scientist, Clorox Healthcare, to weigh in on how practices can reduce risk of infection — and offer the best ways you can help veterinary practices choose the best products for cleaning, disinfecting, and keeping the clinic environment safe.
She told us, “In veterinary settings, you always want to make sure you’re using only U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered products and selecting your disinfectants based on efficacy against pathogens of concern, compatibility with the materials in your facility and any unique needs of the facility and staff.
The new 2018 AAHA Infection Control, Prevention, and Biosecurity (ICPB) Guidelines include a great handout that helps explain how to read disinfectant product labels and what to look, as well as tables and charts on key pathogens, the antimicrobial spectrum of disinfectants, and disinfectant characteristics. Taken together, these tables provide a great overview of many key considerations for disinfectant selection and use.” (Look for more on the AAHA Guidelines in an upcoming blog post).
“One element of product selection that doesn’t get as much attention, but is critical in practice, is ease of use. Ensuring your disinfectant is properly diluted, applied correctly, and surfaces stay wet for the full contact time is important not only for efficacy but also from an efficiency, cost, and safety standpoint. In our experience, the easier a product is to use, the greater the likelihood it will be used correctly. We’ve also seen ease of use turn into labor savings. In one human hospital study, switching from a bucket and cloth method to RTU cleaner disinfectant wipes was associated with a $38.58 in calculated time-related savings.*
If you’re relying on staff members to dilute and mix disinfectant solutions from concentrate and reapply a product to ensure surfaces stay wet for a five to ten-minute contact time, you’re introducing opportunities for human error.
By selecting ready-to-use, fast-acting cleaner-disinfectants with short contact times (e.g., 30 seconds to three minutes), veterinary facilities can save time and encourage compliant use. Ready-to-use cleaners and disinfectants can be used directly from the container, and in many cases, have shelf lives of 12 months or longer… where concentrated/dilutable cleaners and disinfectants require accurate dilution and labeling before using, and once prepared and diluted or “at use” — solutions may have a relatively short shelf life of days to weeks. Often, “at use” solutions need to be prepared fresh on a regular basis, sometimes daily.”
Sarah also mentioned that when building infection control, prevention and biosecurity capabilities at a veterinary practice, they don’t have to start from scratch.
When visiting practices, you can bring their attention to the wealth of resources available to learn about infectious diseases and best practices for infection prevention and control.
For example, the Heroes for Healthy Pets Program provides free RACE-approved continuing education for veterinary professionals and ebooks on topics such as hand hygiene and cleaning and disinfection, with templates to help develop protocols and checklists for the facility as well as infectious disease resources for pet parents.
Clorox also provides information to clinic teams who want to know more about ready-to-use cleaning and disinfecting solutions specifically for veterinary practices.
As a consulting sales professional who guides these conversations, you may find that most customers have plenty of room for improvement and will benefit from your input. We know that practices appreciate this kind of partnership from you… and they’ll go to you for the solutions that increase their safety.
*Reference: T.L. Wiemken, D.R. Curran, E.B. Pacholski, R.R. Kelley, R.R. Abdelfattah, R.M. Carrico, J.A. Ramirez, American Journal of Infection Control 42.3, 2014,329-330. URL: http://www.ajicjournal.org/article/S0196-6553%2813%2901316-3/abstract