Hospitals and clinics are places that we go to rid our bodies of all ailments caused by microorganisms or otherwise. Hence these places need to be cleaned and disinfected properly so that the various people working in it as well as the people visiting these places on a regular basis do not catch these infections.
The process of cleaning infected zones
Infected zones like hospitals, clinics, laboratories etc., essentially follow a three step process of cleaning, sanitisation and disinfection. However in some cases, another step called sterilisation is also added. Even though these words are used interchangeably, and are taken to refer to the same thing, they actually differ in their meanings, processes and results.
- Cleaning: This refers to the removal of all dirt and debris as well as germs which are visible. But this process is of no use in the removal of microorganisms.
- Sanitisation: This process refers to the removal of most of the virus, bacteria and fungi that exist in workplaces, hospitals, especially on medical scrubs, etc., so as to make the place safe and relatively free of germs.
- Disinfection: This refers to the complete removal of all germs and microorganisms from all surfaces within a specified area. This makes the place disease-free and completely safe for use.
Sterilisation, on the other hand, refers to the highest levels of disinfection which also includes the complete and absolute destruction of microorganisms along with their spores. Sterilisation is generally used in the operation theatres of hospitals wherein all the instruments and even medical scrubs need to be disinfected to the highest levels.
Some common disinfectants
Some disinfectants commonly used to make a clinic or hospital safe are:
- Alcohol: This is used both as an antiseptic and as a disinfectant. Its biggest advantage is that it can be used directly on the skin and is non-corrosive.
- Oxidising agents: These agents act on the cell membrane of organisms by causing them to breakdown thereby killing the organism immediately. Some oxidising agents are:
- Household bleach or sodium hypo chloride,
- Chloramines used to purify drinking water,
- Hydrogen peroxide which is commonly used in hospitals as it does not cause allergic reactions
- Iodine, used in the poultry rearing
- Potassium permanganate commonly used to disinfect ponds and aquariums.
- Medical disinfectants: These are extensively used in hospitals and clinics and differ depending on the degree of disinfection required. Commonly used medical disinfectants are hibiscrub and ebiox trionic spray.
Keeping the area clean and disinfected is a necessity in hospitals and clinics. Hence care must be taken to ensure the same.