Surfaces in the Healthcare Environment

The Healthcare Surfaces Institute was founded as a platform for collaboration to reduce inconsistencies, stop fragmentation and bring together all areas of expertise, each of whom hold knowledge and information that will support sustainable surface solutions.

People enter a healthcare facility for many different reasons; ultimately, with the goal of improving health and enhancing their quality of life. All facilities must provide a safe place for healing. If the surfaces cannot be effectively cleaned, disinfected and/or sterilized, it is not a healing environment.

Designing Safe Healthcare Spaces

Healthcare environment design encompasses not just the facility and environment of care, but the medical devices and products used in the patient care area.

Infection prevention must begin with environmental design; therefore, a clear understanding of the patient care process must happen first. The real-life challenges healthcare professionals face are either misunderstood or not known.

Manufacturers also face challenges as they develop innovative solutions to address many of these challenges. Whether it is designing medical devices used for patient care or selecting surfaces for the built environment, the evaluation of surface materials and their ability to be effectively cleaned and disinfected without damage must be must begin before design.
young boy having an eye exam with eye doctor
person cleaning examination chair

Bring Everyone to the Table

There are many different areas of expertise that contribute to patient care and safety. Within the healthcare setting, there is a diverse group of professionals all focused on the same goal of patient safety that have very different understandings of the problems that must be addressed. It is critical that everyone come to the table during design and the during the selection process to ensure everyone has provided insight.

Manufacturers are innovators providing solutions that minimize risk to patients and support the efforts of healthcare professionals. They face challenges, however, in creating products that comply with regulatory compliance and that also withstand tough infection prevention guidelines and rigorous cleaning and disinfection processes. Understanding these requirements and setting minimum standards for testing begins to address some of these challenges. HSI is working on developing these standards to create a safe patient environment that takes into account the real-life challenges of those who work there every day.

Prevention of risk – and ultimately harm – to patients and workers will occur when there is a mutual understanding of the patient care process and the various cleaning and disinfection protocols used to prevent the spread of pathogens. When all key stakeholders are at the table for product decision-making, they gain a holistic insight of what is needed. This allows well-informed decisions to be made on purchasing products for the healthcare environment that can be cleaned and disinfected both effectively and efficiently, interrupting the spread of dangerous infections.

“The awareness and attention to surfaces as sources and transfer routes of pathogenic microbes is an underappreciated reality and deserves efforts to understand and remedy. Seeing the energized commitment of the wide range of healthcare professionals at the Institute and the ever-focusing of the HSI work-products provide for optimism and pathways for real change.”

— Dr. W. Curtis White, PhD, Viaclean Technologies

Healthcare Surfaces Institute

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