Mopping Up Hospital Infection



Hospital cleaning is a neglected component of infection control. In the UK, financial constraints have forced managers to re-evaluate domestic services and general cleaning has been reduced to the bare minimum. Services have been contracted out in some hospitals, which has further lowered standards of hygiene. [Infection Control] personnel believe that cleaning is important in preventing hospital-acquired infections but they do not manage domestic budgets and have failed to stop their erosion. It is difficult to defend high levels of hygiene when there is little scientific evidence to support cleaning practices. This review examines the common micro-organisms associated with hospital-acquired infection and their ability to survive in the hospital environment. It also describes studies which suggest that comprehensive cleaning disrupts the chain of infection between these organisms and patients. It is likely that restoring hygienic standards in hospitals would be a cost-effective method of controlling hospital-acquired infection. Furthermore, good cleaning is achievable whereas the enforcement of hand washing and good antibiotic prescribing are not.

Journal of Hospital Infection, Volume 43, Issue 2, October 1999, Pages 85-100
S. J. Dancer


Copyright © 1999 The Hospital Infection Society. All rights reserved.

Formerly a consultant microbiologist at the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow, Scotland (2005-7), Stephanie now works in NHS Lanarkshire and is the current editor of the Journal of Hospital Infection. She trained at St. Bartholomew's hospital in London (1977-83) followed by postgraduate studies in Pathology at Guy's hospital, where she produced a thesis on the epidemiology and biochemistry of toxin-producing staphylococci. She has worked in various remote areas of the world, including Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Vietnam and the Canadian High Arctic, where she resuscitated 30,000 year old organisms from glacial ice. She spent six years as the Infection Control Officer for Argyll before moving to Health Protection Scotland as their inaugural microbiologist (2002-5). There she set up MRSA surveillance for Scotland, evaluated real-time PCR for the rapid identification of MRSA and helped establish the Scottish Microbiology Forum. She has been an active member of several national working groups on antibiotic prescribing and hospital cleaning, and was a formal referee for the Scottish Health Technology Assessment on MRSA screening. At present she balances clinical and editorial duties with various research projects, specifically the role of antibiotics, screening and cleaning in the control of MRSA.


Dr. Stephanie J. Dancer

Department of Microbiology
Hairmyres Hospital,

Eaglesham Road, East Kilbride G75 8RG, UK.

Tel +44 (0)1355 585000

[email protected]