The Life-Threatening Problem of Poor Cleaning Procedures in Hospitals

Every year, 722,000 Americans get an infection from their hospital visit and 75,000 of them die as result. Many of those cases are a direct result of medical staffs failing to keep the spread of bacteria under control by using the wrong cleaning methods and products.

This is not one of those stories, but it could have been.


Kalaya was born with four heart defects. She was just seven months old when her parents took her in to have open-heart surgery. They were terrified, of course, that she might not make it.

Thankfully, she did. The surgery saved her life.

It was over a year later that a reporter with the Detroit News discovered there had been a problem with Kalaya’s surgery. While the little girl’s heart was open, the surgeon discovered a tube leading to a bypass machine was clogged with a previous patient’s blood. The surgeon and her staff had to rebuild the sterile field and the surgery took far longer than expected.

Had it not been caught in time, the old blood could have entered the little girl’s system and caused infection and septic shock. The girl could have died.

All because the equipment had not been properly cleaned. Thankfully, this is a problem the medical community is working to solve.


Medical device maker Olympus voluntarily recalled its duodenoscopes (used to drain fluids from ducts blocked by cancerous tumors) last year.

The reason? It wasn’t that they didn’t work the way they were supposed to. It wasn’t even that they were dangerous in and of themselves.

It was because they were too hard to clean. Between complex design and lack of proper cleaning instructions, after repeated use they were causing infections.

This is a common problem, according to the Emergency Care Research Institute. Medical devices both become bacterial carriers and sometimes break down because of improper cleaning. The problem is lack of knowledge both about the appropriate process and the proper cleaning products to use.


MRSA, VRE & C. diff are a few examples of organisms that can kill you. One of the best places to find them is on the floor of your hospital.

Floors are frequently overlooked for disinfection because people don’t directly touch the floor as often. Unfortunately, one recent study found that 3-18% of gloves were contaminated, not because staff touched the floor, but because they touched objects that had been in contact with the floor.

Even when the floors of rooms where infected patients stayed are cleaned regularly, hospitals struggle to contain these organisms for two reasons. The first is the problem of patients picking them up on nonslip socks before the room was cleaned, then carrying them out of the room onto other floors. The second problem is the use of cleaning solutions that don’t kill certain organisms.

  1. diff (Clostridium Difficile), for example, is especially resistant to cleaning solutions. Thankfully, many sources say good old chlorine bleach does the job.


There are two essentials to keep a medical environment safe from contamination.

  1. Ironclad procedures for regular cleaning of floors and equipment, as prescribed by the equipment manufacturer.
  2. A cleaning product supplier that has a sufficient variety of products and understanding of those product specifications that ensures you can have a high degree of efficacy.

We are Dalton & Co. Professional Cleaning Solutions. Our selection comes from dozens of suppliers and consists of hundreds of products. We work with several medical facilities and we’d like to talk with you about your facility’s cleaning supply needs.

Questions? Just ask.

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