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healthcare-supply-chain-managementHospitals are supposed to be sterile environments. Patients come in with all sorts of bacteria and infections, so to keep them from spreading, rigorous health and hygiene procedures are put in place. But do they work? Are they even followed? In 2010, it was estimated that around 99,000 hospital deaths are caused or contributed to by infections contracted while the patient was in the hospital.

There are all sorts of ways that germs can spread without proper healthcare supply chain management. So what are the dirtiest places in the hospital, and how can you keep them clean? It varies from place to place, of course, but here are four important ones to watch out for:

1. Mattresses and Curtains 

The first dirty culprit to watch out for in your healthcare supply chain management is the area immediately around the patient, specifically bedding and curtains. Sheets should be changed and laundered regularly, which is the easy part. The hard part is putting the bedding back on.If sheets aren’t put on correctly, sweat, urine, blood, and other bodily fluids can easily soak through into the mattress below it. The same can happen to the curtains around the patient’s bed. They pick up all sorts of germs and bacteria. 

Once the mattress is contaminated, no matter how many times you change the sheets, the spread of germs is inevitable. As for curtains, they simply aren’t changed nearly as often as they should be. The key take away here is to have the right healthcare supplies on hand that will help you sterilize mattresses and curtains regularly, as well as changing sheets.

2. Phones

Many doctors and nurses use phones (whether cell or land line) to keep in touch with one another regarding important situations and patient issues. Phones will come into contact with bacteria, dirt, dust, and dead skin cells at some point in the day. The build up can be more extreme than you think! 

Most people forget to disinfect their phones between uses, which is a big mistake. Phones are carried from room to room, transferring germs from doctors to patients to nurses, which could possibly make sick patients sicker. But it’s not a completely lost cause. Wiping your phone down with a disinfecting wipe after each use can greatly reduce the spread of disease and day-to-day bacteria.

3. Floors and Shoes

As you may have guessed, the floors in a hospital are going to be among the dirtiest places of all. Germs and bacteria from one room can be easily tracked all around the hospital through continuous foot traffic. However, it’s not just the floors that are dirty. The soles of the shoes worn by doctors and nurses are just as dirty. They pick up all of that dirt, grime, and bacteria and carry it from room to room, spreading disease.

You won’t be able to eliminate this issue all together, but you should have a game plan. Start by ordering healthcare supplies that offer the strength needed for a hospital setting. Other cleaning products can vary greatly in their ability to tackle germs associated with disease. The next step is creating a routine process. Floors should be mopped at least once a day and shoes should be disinfected upon removal.

4. Waiting Rooms

Before being admitted to the hospital, patients will spend anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours in the waiting room surrounded by other sick patients. Even if they’re not being admitted for any kind of bacterial infection, they can easily contract one from someone else while they wait. Regularly cleaning waiting rooms, as well as sanitizing pens and pencils, clipboards, doorknobs, handrails, and anything else that patients will come into contact with communally, can help limit the spread of infection.

Perhaps the biggest culprits in the spread of disease across hospitals are the hands and fingers of the people working there. Anything they touch is likely to contain bacteria, which will then be spread to anything else they touch afterward, from medical charts to computer keyboards. Frequent hand washing and use of hand sanitizers are essential in a hospital setting, not just for doctors and nurses, but anyone else who works there. Having the right healthcare supplies and processes in place for proper hygiene is key.

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About Michael Wilson

Michael Wilson is AFFLINK'S Vice President of Marketing and Communications. He has been with the organization since 2005 and provides strategic leadership for the entire supply chain team. In his free time, Michael enjoys working with the Wounded Warrior Project, fishing, and improving his cooking skills.

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