Infectious pathogens are transmitted through three environmental routes: air, surface contact, and water. Main pathogen migration routes into healthcare facilities are through infected patients bodies or germs riding on clothing or shoes. Depending on the type of organism, it can remain a threat for days, even up to months. Organisms can live on any surface and be spread through aerosolization, inhalation, and direct contact with a contaminated surface. Once these organisms are within the walls of a facility, they are picked up and redeposited from the soles of shoes to all floor types in the environment. These deadly pathogens migrate from room to room with each step, traveling freely into all locations including OR’s, ICU’s, dialysis, wound care, labor and delivery, bone marrow transplant and other high risk areas. (CDC and NIOSH Study)
The use of chemical disinfectants on healthcare facility floors is an integral component in controlling HIA’s but does not keep the floors clean and safe for long. An investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) proves that cleaning hospital floors using a phenolic disinfectant causes a 90% to 99.9% reduction of bacteria. However, the CDC notes within a few hours of disinfection the bacterial count on these floors can be equal to, or higher, than the pre-treatment levels. The pathogenic recontamination begins immediately after disinfection. Due to their microscopic size, bacteria, viruses, mold, and spores become airborne and can remain a suspended inhalation hazard for hours.
According to the CDC, “hospital floors become contaminated with microorganisms from settling airborne bacteria by contact with shoes, wheels and other objects. Even with chemical disinfectant applied to a floor being 94-99% effective in the reduction of organisms, the same surface, after testing, has been shown to have bacterial counts back to the pretreatment levels in just a few hours.” (CDC Guidelines for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities, 2008)
“It is clinically proven that the bottoms of shoes carry millions of microorganisms on them at any given time, once these pathogens are carried into or within a healthcare facility, there is a 90-99% transfer rate of organisms from the bottom of shoes to the floor.” (Shoe Study-Dr Charles Gerba Sheri Maxwell 2008)
“Once airborne an organism can travel and spread far and wide throughout the course of a day and present an inhalation hazard or they may settle on wounds, catheters, and other equipment and result in infections.” (Hospital Airborne Infection-Kowalski 2008)