Welcome to Professional and Technical Services (PTS) – experts in chemical disinfection for infection prevention. Our goal is to educate and provide you the latest resources related to cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces, medical devices and hands. As specialists in disinfectant chemistries, microbiology, environmental cleaning and disinfection, facility assessments and policy and procedure creation we are dedicated to helping any person or facility who uses chemical disinfectants.

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Friday, July 14, 2017

#FF Schools out for summer!

As much as I hate to date myself, I’m hoping that when many of you read the title for this week’s blog you started humming, singing or at least thought of the 1972 song by Alice Cooper “Schools out for Summer”!  Let me be clear, I was still a baby when it first debuted, but I dare say many of us probably sang the song on the last day of school as we ran out the school doors whether it was to catch the bus, to jump in your car or simply run all the way home.   While many kids hope to completely avoid anything that may resemble learning in any form this summer, there are some of us who take the opportunity to catch up on reading or learning during the couple months that we anticipate having a bit more time to slow down and relax.

As I do each quarter I wanted to share the Webber Training teleclasses coming up for the next three months.  As noted in past blogs, the Teleclass Education by Webber Training is an international lecture series on topics related to infection prevention and control. The objective is to bring the best possible education to the widest possible audience with the fewest possible barriers when trying to access it.  Here's the list of teleclasses for the third quarter of 2017.

Date
Title of Teleclass
Speaker
July 13th
The psychology of hand hygiene: How to improve hand hygiene using behaviour change frameworks
Dr. Jocelyn Srigley, Canada
July 26th
The impact of catheter associated urinary tract infection
Prof. Brett Mitchell, Australia
August 10th
Learning infection control via games
Prof. Anne-Gaëlle Venier, France
August 23rd
Biofilms in the hospital environment: Infection control implications
Prof. Karen Vickery, Australia
August 24th
Social Media: Useless or useful in infection prevention
Barley Chironda, Canada
September 14th
Relationship between patient safety climate and adherence to standard precautions
Dr. Amanda Hessels, USA
September 18th
Igniting passion, sparking improvement
Julie Storr, UK
September 20th
How to publish in the journals and why it matters
Prof. Elaine Larson, USA

For more information on Webber Training, including a full list of the upcoming Infection Prevention and Control Teleclasses, please visit www.webbertraining.com.  If you’re a Twitter follower you can also be part of the conversation during the sessions by following #WebberTraining.

I hope many of you will take the opportunity to listen to these teleclasses and share them with your colleagues! 


Bugging Off!


Nicole

Friday, July 7, 2017

Happy belated Canada Day and Independence Day!

With school finally coming to an end last week, this week we took a long needed family vacation.  I decided I would even take a break from blogging. So unlike me, I know. I hope you don't mind, but with views like the one in the picture, while enjoying a little sunset fishing, what's a girl to do!

Some of you may have already received our Corporate Solutions Newsletter and know that we are fortunate to have friendships with Opinion Leaders from around the world who are willing to write articles for our newsletter.  If you haven't read the newsletter, I hope you will!  I'm currently enjoying reading the book "Preventing Hospital Infections: Real-World Problems, Realistic Solutions" that we mentioned in the newsletter.  I'll tell you all about it next week!


Bugging Off!


Nicole

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Hot-desking creates hot spots!

I would describe myself as an extroverted introvert.  My family, my friends and those that I work with would agree.  I get along with people well (most days) and I can be extremely engaging (when I want) and chat your ear off on a host of topics.  This serves me well when attending tradeshows, engaging in team work and generally getting through day to day life.  I will, however, hit my limit of how much “people-time” I can handle.  When that happens it’s like hitting a brick wall while going 60 miles per hour.  The crash is ugly and the collateral damage can be messy.   As a result I’ve developed a few coping mechanisms to make sure I do not crash as often.   For example, when I travel I give myself at least an hour between the conference and any evening function I have to attend.  My coworkers may decide to grab a drink, but I think they would all agree it’s better that I don’t.  That hour to recharge makes a world of difference!  At home my recharge time is “putting away the laundry”.  My husband knows I hate laundry so if I’m puttering around putting laundry away he knows I need some space.  At work, I close my office door.

We spend so much time at work that I think for many our office or our personal work space can be a haven or sanctuary against the mad onslaught of work, pressures or fires we face throughout the day.  If I think back to my “humble” beginnings, I was thrilled to have a cubicle I could call my own.  I remember the day I “grew up” and got my own office (with a window I may add)……   There is something to say about having your space, your stuff organized or strewn about the desk, your crumbs from breakfast, lunch or snack and your germs.  How many times have I itched my eye after typing on my keyboard - too many to count.

I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels this way, but in recent years, the design and layout of our office space has changed.  Today, a number of companies have jumped on the ‘hot desking’ bandwagon.  The premise seems interesting - you can sit wherever you want.  The concept has been touted to promote greater efficiency and teamwork.  In practice, many people find it pretty annoying.  It’s akin to being in High School where, at the end of the day you pack up your books and papers and go home.

As I have been taught over my years, when making plans or developing strategies you need to look for the unintended consequences or unobvious issues that could rear their ugly heads.  In the case of hot-desking, as much of this was thought of by “experts” not in the infection prevention world, the unintended consequence of their unobvious issue was the increasing risk of transmission of germs.  Think about it.  Not every office is cleaned every day.  That means from one day to the next you have different people, different germs attaching themselves to the desk, the shared keyboard or mouse, the shared phone….

I recently came across a study conducted by a company in the UK who specialize in hygiene.  For their study, they swabbed >100 desk areas of a company with fixed-desks (e.g. MINE and MINE alone!).  This company then decided to move to hot-desking and the desk areas were swabbed again.  They results speak for themselves.  They found a 41% increase in microbial contamination on the same surfaces.  The one area where the hot-desks did better was on the keyboard.  Surprisingly, the hot-desk keyboards were 6% “cleaner” than fixed-desk keyboards.  It kind of makes sense; if I were sharing a desk I would probably clean the keyboard too!

Does this mean the end of hot-desking?  Probably not, however, perhaps before moving towards this set up some consideration as to how to minimize loss of productivity due to illness will now be done.  I’ve worked with some call centers where each desk is equipped with a canister of disinfectant wipes and a bottle of hand sanitizer.  The idea being that you clean when you leave and you clean when you arrive.  Providing that the disinfectant you choose does not require the use of PPE or contain chemicals that people know to be harmful, it’s not a bad practice to set up!   I’m never too sure who uses my office when I’m travelling or on vacation….perhaps I need to start disinfecting my area when I leave and when I arrive after a period of absence!


Bugging Off!


Nicole

Friday, June 23, 2017

Are you inked?

I’m not, which considering I am known to change the colour of my hair every five weeks and currently have purple highlights surprises people.  It’s not that I’m against tattoos, but that I have not yet found a symbol that speaks to me enough to get one done.   The other and probably more truthful reason is that I had an uncle contract Hep C after getting a tattoo.  From my teens, I knew from an infection prevention perspective that things can go very, very wrong if cleaning, disinfection and sterilization is not completed correctly, each and every time.

While not associated with improper cleaning and disinfection, there was a recent study published in the British Medical Journal Case Reports that reviewed the death of a “youngish” male who contracted flesh-eating bacteria in the area of a newly “inked” tattoo.  If it was not associated to cleaning and disinfection, then what was the cause?  Why, ignoring instructions for care of a newly “inked” tattoo and swimming in the Gulf of Mexico of course.  According to the study, the infection was caused by Vibrio vulnificus which is present in many marine environments.

According to the CDC, Vibriosis causes an estimated 80,000 illnesses and 100 deaths in the United States every year. Vibrio vulnificus is a Gram-negative bacillus that only affects humans and other primates. It is in the same family as bacteria that cause cholera and is found in warm coastal waters, and is present at higher levels between May and October, hence the reason why you should not swim with freshly tattooed skin or even cuts or scrapes!  Most people will contract an infection after eating raw seafood that contains the bacteria.  It’s particularly prevalent in oysters, but that never stops me from eating them!  As described in the study, infection can also occur when the bacteria enters the body through a break (cut or scrape or tattoo) in the skin, most likely by swimming in contaminated coastal water.

Does this really have anything to do with cleaning and disinfection?  Not really,  but every once and a while you need to take a detour, and since we’re moving into summertime which signifies swimming, consider it a public service announcement not to swim for at least 2 weeks after you have gotten a tattoo!  It may also serve as a reminder for me why I’ve not yet gotten a tattoo.  I love the water.  I love swimming, boating and paddle boarding.  I now know I’ll never get a tattoo in the summer!


Bugging Off!


Nicole

Friday, June 16, 2017

Cruise Control Can Kill

www.bitmoji.com/
Do you ever have those days where you just run on autopilot or cruise control?  I do.  It’s a joke in my house that if I have to something out of the ordinary that breaks my morning routine, I get all out of sorts.  I have also been known to step over a bag or item that I have placed in front of the door so I do not forget it.  Brilliant, I know. While forgetting a bag, your phone or laptop charger is not going to be the death of you, running on autopilot when using chemicals can. When our daily routine includes the use of cleaning and disinfecting products, we need to stay alert. This week, I was reminded of just how easy it can be to run on autopilot in dealing with a facility and it’s exactly these kind of situations that reinforce my reasons behind the Talk Clean To Me blog. 

The “story” goes like this. 

Inquirer:    Hello! We have been using your product for quite some time and love it, but recently a few of our staff are experiencing rashes on their arms after use. We have never had this before and wanted to confirm there have been no changes to the product.

Responder: Thank you for reaching out to us. We would be happy to help you get to the bottom of what is going on. If you do not mind, I’m going to ask some questions to see what we can figure out.

Inquirer:     Go ahead!

Responder: Do you use the Ready-To-Use or Concentrate version of the product?

Inquirer:     We use the Ready-To-Use format. We just pour and go.

Responder: Is it possible that you may have purchased the Concentrate format this time?

Inquirer:      I don’t think so, but we did have a different person place the order.  Let me go grab the bottle.

Elevator type music begins playing while the Responder is on hold waiting for the Inquirer.

Inquirer:      I’ve got the bottle. It looks to be the same as what we always buy.

Responder:  Do you mind reading what is on the front panel of the bottle?

Inquirer:    Sure. It says “Product A, Concentrated Cleaner Disinfectant”.  OMG!  We have not been diluting the product before use.  Could this be the reason for the rashes?

Responder: Unfortunately, yes. Concentrate products are meant to be diluted before use. Using the product at full strength and not diluting could certainly result in skin irritation.

Inquirer:     OMG! I feel so dumb. None of us read the label. We just saw that it was the same product name and used it as we always have. 

Responder: You’re not alone. It unfortunately happens more frequently that you would think. I’m glad we were able to get to the bottom of this! The dilution instructions are found on the label.  Would you like me to go over those with you?

Inquirer:    No. I see them and they look easy enough to follow.  I better go dump out the product we have in our container and replace with properly diluted product before anyone else uses it!  Thanks for your help!

Responder: You’re most welcome. Don’t hesitate to call us again with any questions you may have. Good bye!

Inquirer:     Good bye!

Responder and Inquirer hang up the phone.

Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon occurrence.  I hope by sharing this very true story, you’ll read the label of the product you’re using in a little bit more detail and not just focus on the product name.  You never know when a product may have been switched.  In this case, the outcome was not serious, but you never know when using chemicals when a little mistake can lead to deadly consequences!


Bugging Off!

Nicole

Friday, June 9, 2017

Finding the perfect match

Source: www.markarmstrongillustration.com/
Going into university, my options were science or music.  I knew what I was like from the age of 11 to 16 (well heard from my mom that I was “difficult”, but I’m sure she exaggerated), so the thought of being a music teacher was a no go. However, after graduation while I may have hung up my flute, saxophone and piano, I joined a choral group.  So this week, when trying to determine how to wrap up our introduction for our newest Superhero in the world of cleaning and disinfection, I knew I needed to touch upon the properties of an ideal disinfectant and out of nowhere I started humming a song.

“Matchmaker, Matchmaker, make me a match, find me a find, catch me a catch
Matchmaker, Matchmaker, look through your book, and make me a perfect match”

The lyrics are from Fiddler on the Roof.  If you’re not familiar with the story, it centers on Tevye, who is the father of five daughters struggling to maintain his Jewish religious and cultural traditions as outside influences encroach upon the family's lives. He must cope both with the strong-willed actions of his daughters, the three oldest who wish to marry for love, moving them further away from the customs of Tevye’s faith. 

You may be asking however, what does Fiddler on the Roof or a Matchmaker have to do with Infection Prevention?  Why everything!  What do we do?  We look for the best products – disinfectants, medical devices etc., to provide the highest degree of care for our patients.   We match-make every day!  I can’t say for certain that men make lists of what they look for in a partner, but I bet many of my female readers are nodding their heads thinking back in time.   Who hasn’t thought of what you are looking for in a partner?  The same holds true for choosing disinfectants.   We only have to look through the CDC guidelines or Drs Rutala and Weber’s article Selection of an Ideal Disinfectant to find recommended qualities to look for in a disinfectant.

I summarized the article in three different blogs shortly after it was published: I’ll take kill claims for $200, Slippery when wet – the importance of contact times and Over easy – why safety profiles and ease of use will improve disinfection so I am not going to rehash the article again.  However, if I were to summarize the article in its entirety, in as few words as possible, I would say the key take home points are for us to use our noggins.  We need to come to terms that the perfect disinfectant does not exist.  However, if we look for a balance between efficacy and safety, we can find products that will provide the level of kill that meets our needs from a daily infection prevention perspective while also meeting the health and safety needs and concerns of staff and patients.  

If we think back to last week’s blog, the weakest link, from a cleaning and disinfection perspective if our staff do not use the product as we had intended our infection prevention program has been compromised.  If we focus on selecting an ideal disinfectant, we will win the battle over the Microbe Militia!


Bugging Off!

Nicole


Friday, June 2, 2017

You are the weakest link – Goodbye!

Image Source: http://bizarro.com
I’m hoping at least a few of you will remember the TV game show – “The Weakest Link with host Anne Robinson”.The insults and verbal sparring that went on with some of the contestants and Ms. Robinson were truly epic to watch.  For quite some time after the show aired, “you are the weakest link” was used by people for all sorts of reasons.  If you enjoyed studying Darwin as I did, I often wonder why he did not trademark the phrase!  I’m sure many of us have thought (if not said it) to friends, family members or sports team mates even after a particularly bad game.  I was a show jumper – if the round went bad, as much as I wanted to blame my horse, the truth was I was in the “driver’s seat” so a bad round was generally a result of my bad judgment.

The concept of “the weakest link” is perfect for infection prevention programs, be it surface disinfection, hand hygiene or medical device reprocessing.  The success of these programs relies on people understanding and completing their job correctly each and every time.  Think about it – if you cut corners cleaning a patient room what happens?  We have the very real potential to miss pathogens that can be transmitted and lead to infection.  The same can happen with poor hand hygiene compliance and improper medical device reprocessing.  We all know it’s true and I only need to cite a few headlines that have hit the news due to an outbreak or reams of peer reviewed studies on the topic.

Back in 2011, I wrote a blog “Top 10 Disinfectant Offences” based on feedback from readers telling me about times they have seen disinfectants used incorrectly.  I hope you’ll go back and read the blog, but the “top” 3 were: The Instruction Ignorers, The Custodial Chemist and The Sink or Swim Squad.  I think (hope) the groups are pretty self-explanatory – people knowingly ignore instructions, they mix up their own concoctions to make things smell better, streak less, or what have you, or fail to have an effective training program to ensure that people are armed with the knowledge it takes to get the job done.

Why am I going on about the weakest link and Darwin’s theory of natural selection?  Well, as introduced last week, we are up against the Microbe Militia.  Errors in cleaning environmental surfaces, errors in cleaning our hands and errors in medical devices ensure there are opportunities for the Microbe Militia to take hold and wreak havoc by causing HAIs.  If you want to learn about other common mistakes in cleaning surfaces, hands or devices check out the Insights Blog.  Come join our Infection Prevention Army!


Bugging Off!


Nicole