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Divergent opinions on surface disinfection: myths or prevention? A review of the literature

Author(s): Exner, Martin

Journal: GMS Krankenhaushygiene Interdisziplinär
ISSN 1863-5245

Volume: 2;
Issue: 1;
Start page: Doc19;
Date: 2007;
Original page

Virtually no prevention strategy in hospital hygiene has been the focus of such frequent controversial discussions as the role of surface disinfection. Set against that background, the Commission for Hospital Hygiene and Infection Prevention at the Robert Koch Institute founded a working group comprising members with divergent views of risk evaluation as regards the role of disinfection. This working group produced a most carefully drafted guideline on how to deal with various risk areas and also incorporated a new provision into the guideline, stating that: “Cleaning and disinfection procedures must be organized and implemented such that there is no increase in the microbial load or spread of facultatively pathogenic or pathogenic microorganisms on surfaces. ”Numerous studies have come to the conclusion that surface disinfection constitutes a basic infection control measure with which the spread of pathogens can be controlled. Conversely, when using only detergents such a form of control is not possible, something that must be taken into account in future when engaging in risk evaluation and formulating infection control measures. In view of the burgeoning trend in, for example, norovirus outbreaks, also in hospitals and nursing homes, such insights are of paramount importance and attest to the need for disinfection of surfaces and of areas with frequent hand and skin contacts. This discussion about the need for surface disinfection has, in addition to causing confusion among users, led to a decline in the willingness to accept hygienic practices, thus increasing the risk of occurrence of nosocomial infections as well as of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms.
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