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Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals assess cleanliness with the Clean-Trace Clinical ATP system

Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) bioluminescence is an effective method of rapid hygiene monitoring being introduced into the healthcare industry. Tracy Vernon, Lead Nurse – Tissue Viability at Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, describes how her team has adopted the Clean-Trace Clinical ATP hygiene monitoring system from 3M Health Care to detect standards of cleanliness of tissue viability devices.

The Tissue Viability team at Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust understands the sizable challenge health services face in tackling healthcare associated infection (HCAI) and believes it is essential to do all it can to reduce their incidence. This drive and commitment led the team to develop a pilot study audit to determine the standards of cleanliness of tissue viability devices.

The audit consisted of three aspects, the monitoring of static mattresses, pressure relieving chairs and dynamic pressure relieving mattresses. A protocol was devised to assess these areas and the team used the Clean-Trace Clinical ATP system from 3M Health Care to obtain rapid, quantitative results.

The static mattress study involved sampling eight mattresses per ward on ten wards with Clean-Trace Clinical ATP swabs. The results from each swab were used to provide a ward average and these averages were then compared across the wards. The team noted that higher scores were gained from mattresses used by long stay patients.

The pressure relieving chair audit followed a similar protocol with three chairs per ward from the same ten wards being sampled at three selected touch points. An average score per ward was then calculated from the results obtained using the Clean-Trace Clinical ATP system.

The final area of the study was monitoring pressure relieving mattresses that required external decontamination. This initial study was subsequently implemented as an on-going quality control system. Randomly selected mattresses are swabbed prior to sending to the decontamination contractors, Karomed Limited, and swabbed again on return to the hospital. This process allows the team to determine the effectiveness of the decontamination process and feedback is provided to Karomed Limited on a weekly basis.

Tracy Vernon commented: “The Clean-Trace system has allowed us to successfully conduct the pilot study audit and is now being used for routine monitoring in certain areas of the hospital. ATP testing complements our visual assessments. From the results obtained we can clearly see that scores of less than 150 relative lights units (the unit of measurement read by the Clean-Trace NG luminometer) are achievable and this is the standard we have set. Ward Managers have embraced this pilot study and have set up their own regimes to ensure more frequent cleaning of the tissue viability devices.“

One of the Ward Managers who took part in the study added: “As the Ward Manager of one of the 10 wards piloted, I have found this initiative beneficial in highlighting potential areas where a reduction in infection risks can be scientifically monitored. We found from the initial audit that the readings were at a higher than desired level. I shared this information with the ward’s nursing team and a plan was formulated on how to move forward. An increase in cleaning to at least once a week commenced, with an extra clean on discharge. This has made a significant difference in reducing HCAIs within my ward area.”

Nicola Allen, Territory Manager at 3M Microbiology concluded: “The work Tracy and her team have undertaken has been pioneering in the use of ATP technology in the healthcare environment. It shows the major role ATP rapid hygiene monitoring can play in helping to improve the cleanliness of our hospitals, for the benefit of patients, health care professionals and Trust managers.”

Currently, the Clean-Trace Clinical ATP system is the only ATP system to have received a Level 1 recommendation from the Department of Health’s Rapid Review Panel (RRP). Trials of the system have recently been completed in seven Showcase Hospitals across England as part of the HCAI Technology Innovation Programme.

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