Haley and Kassie's Policy Paper

Killing Bacteria
Kassie Hein and Haley Williams
Policy Paper

Antibiotic resistance has become an increased concern within healthcare facilities throughout the United States. There have been an increasing number of illnesses that are becoming fatal because of the inability of antibiotics to treat these infections properly. Reducing the amount of bacteria found in hospitals would in return, help prevent the spread of diseases as well as decrease antibiotic resistance.
Research shows that, infections associated with healthcare are one of the top ten leading causes of death in the United States [2]. Research has also shown that surfaces in hospitals are contaminated with many of bacteria that can be picked up through contact. When coming in contact with contaminated surfaces, we pick up bacteria: this bacteria can survive a for matter of seconds to hours on your hands, but it only takes 5 seconds to pass that bacteria from your hands to your patients [4]. In closely-knit areas, such as hospital units, it is easy to spread infection from staff to patients. This spread of infection is becoming overwhelming. Healthcare associated infections account for about 1.7 million infections and 99,000 associated deaths each year [2]. We believe that phones are a big contributor to these infectious diseases. Although phones are essential for communication, they increase the risk of spreading bacterial infections. It has been reported that, “over 47% of all phones are contaminated with pathogenic microbes.” Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare team members unconsciously transfer bacteria from phones to their patients after use, not realizing the risk that the phones are presenting. Therefore, the use of Clorox wipes would sufficiently decrease the amount of microbes found on phones, which could potentially cause harm to patients. [3] Using proper disinfectants plays a key role in decreasing the number of hospital-associated infections [5].

Mercy hospital employees must Clorox down any phone after using it in the hospital environment. There will be a monthly census to see if the rates of bacteria on the phone are going down by swabbing a random selection. This will help eliminate bacteria in the hospital as well as lower rates of nosocomial infections in healthcare facilities.
As the CEOs of Mercy, we will be enforcing and regulating this policy. Any healthcare worker who is reported for not wiping down their phone after use will be fined $200. The second time any healthcare worker is reported for not wiping down their phone, the fine will be doubled. If there is a third time, the health care employee will be suspended for a week. The cost of materials will be about $79,500 a year per hospital. It is estimated that we will use approximately 100 containers of Clorox wipes a day, each container containing 35 wipes. When we priced the cost per container, we estimated it to be about three dollars, resulting in the estimated annual price. We based our estimate on clorox wipes, but hospitals could choose to use other generic antibacterial cleaners, which would work just as well and may be more cost effective.

Some people may feel that the amount spent on Clorox wipes for one hospital a year is obscene. This Clorox wipe policy is more efficient than not doing it because the annual cost for covering nosocomial infections is “6.65 billion dollars in the US.” [1] Another argument is that the enforcement for this policy is not strict enough. If there is no difference in the amount of bacteria swabbed on the phones, then we will discontinue our policy after a year. Also we feel that if healthcare workers realize that antibiotic resistance is a huge oncoming problem, then they will care enough to wipe down their phone after use. The last argument is that this policy will be more of a hassle than help. We know that some nurses may get fed up with cleaning off their phones, but we are protecting the future generation from antibiotic resistance. Although these arguments exist, we feel that our policy is detrimental to the healthcare environment and will help decrease the amount of antibiotic resistance in the United States.

(1) Direct Medical Costs, March 2009. Scott, R. Douglas II: Pg. 1. www.healthwatchusa.org accessed on September 27, 2009.
(2) CDC. Estimates of Healthcare-Associated Infections. June 15, 2009. www.cdc.gov
accessed on September 28, 2009
(3) Ulger, Fatma. Are we aware how contaminated our mobile phones with nosocomial pathogens? Annal of Clinical Microbiology and Antimicrobials. March 6, 2009
(4) J Clin Microbiol. Potential Role of Hands. Journal of Clinical Microbiology. October; 29(10): 2115-2119
(5) Rutala, William The Benefits of Surface Disinfection. American Journal of Infection Control June 2004.

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