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.

Our expertise is utilized by Infection Preventionists, Public Health Experts, First Responders, Dentists, Physicians, Nurses, Veterinarians, Aestheticians, Environmental Services professionals and janitorial product distributors to develop more sustainable cleaning and disinfection practices in North America.

Our commitment to providing chemical disinfectant education is more than business, it is a passion.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Where for art thou Magic Bullet?

No, I’m not referring to the wonderful food-processor found on late night infomercials, I’m referring to the singular disinfectant product that many are searching for to address ALL of their cleaning and disinfection needs – the “Magic Bullet”. By this I’m referring to the single product that kills everything and can be used on all surfaces floor to ceiling. For those of you on the hunt for such a product, boy do I have bad news for you...

Although we can certainly understand the desire for a single product from a convenience stand point, quite frankly there are far too many other parameters that will be compromised or sacrificed to gain that convenience. Allow me to explain just some of the key reasons why there remains the need for multiple products for specific applications.

Some Disinfectants are Too Aggressive for Broad Daily Use

We are more than well aware of the prevalence of C. diff and the need for sporicidal agents to effectively eradicate it from the environment. Although best practice guidelines recommend the targeted use of these products, some may wish to utilize a sporicidal agent in a more liberal manner as a preventative tool for the cleaning and disinfection of ALL hand contact surfaces throughout a facility on an ongoing basis. I’m here to simply offer some food for thought. Firstly, one must consider the fact that the chemistries required to achieve sporicidal disinfection are simply far too aggressive to utilize this broadly. The Occupational Health and Safety precautions surrounding the use of these products will be prohibitive and most likely will counteract any perceived gain in convenience from using a singular product. Likewise, because of their aggressive nature, there is a greater potential for prematurely impacting surface or device integrity with the expansive use of these products. In short, although the wide-scale use of a sporicidal agent may look good on paper, this scope of use is impractical and likely to be fraught with issues, so the targeted use of these products alongside traditional hospital grade disinfectants continues to be the preference.

No Disinfectant is Compatible With All Materials or Surfaces

In the vast environment that makes up a typical healthcare facility there are dozens, if not hundreds, of different materials that make up the devices and surfaces that require regular cleaning and disinfection. For this reason, it is essentially impossible to find a chemistry that is compatible with every single material and still be effective enough for our infection prevention needs. Just think, would you select a singular cleaning product to use on all of the surfaces around your home? I wonder how that stove cleaner would react with your leather sofa? Therefore, despite our best intentions to assimilate or amalgamate disinfectant product there will likely remain the need for specific products required for targeted tasks or surfaces.

After contemplating these key considerations, will you still embark on the search for the elusive “Magic Bullet” disinfectant?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Eww! You have the FLU!!

While Lee & I have not focused on specific diseases in our past blog posts, while getting my flu shot this week and noticing that the chair in my doctor’s office is covered with fabric that could not easily be cleaned or disinfected and that the exam table had most definitely NOT been cleaned or disinfected between patients I thought perhaps this week would be a good time to start. After all, it is flu season for many countries around the globe!

Seasonal influenza (or Flu season as I like to call it) refers to the periodic outbreaks of respiratory illness in the fall and winter, usually between November and April. Influenza is an enveloped or easy to kill virus that is readily neutralized by disinfectants available today. The Flu is primarily spread through large droplets -picture your colleague that just sneezed or coughed without covering his mouth or better yet that close talker who is forever spraying you in the face while she talks! These droplets can directly come in contact with the nose, mouth or eyes and infect you. The upside is that large droplets can only travel a limited range, less than 6 feet so if you limit close contact you can limit the chance of getting infected.

While to a lesser degree, influenza can also be spread by touching objects contaminated with influenza viruses and then transferring the infected material from the hands to the nose, mouth or eyes. High touch hand contact surfaces such as door knobs, light switches, telephones, keyboards, etc should be cleaned and disinfected frequently. I would also say that for Flu Season, the chair you sit on at Flu Shot clinics should also be considered high touch…do you know how many hands were on it before you sat down? During Flu season you can help stop the spread by cleaning and disinfecting your work areas before going on breaks, lunch and prior to leaving at the end of the day.

Proper hygiene (disinfecting hands and surfaces) and practicing social distancing is the primary means to help stop the spread of seasonal or pandemic influenza. Approximately 80% of infections are transmitted by hands. Frequent washing of hands with both soap and water or alcohol hand sanitizers is the single most effective way of limiting the spread of influenza. Hands should be washed after blowing ones nose, after covering your mouth after coughing or sneezing, after using the bathroom and prior to eating or drinking. Social distancing means reducing the frequency, proximity, and duration of contact between people (both employees and customers) to reduce the chances of spreading influenza from person-to-person. While this is not always possible we can take the opportunity to turn our heads and cover our mouth and nose with our elbows when we cough and sneeze. Using our elbows to cover our mouth and nose helps to keep our hands free of germs which could spread disease. Or better yet, get creative and use the back of your leg as demonstrated in this spoof on Hand Hygiene. We had a good chuckle and we hope you have a good laugh too. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tkojSW7lqY

Most importantly and the reason for today’s blog - GET VACCINATED! The annual Flu shot can help reduce your chance of getting seasonal flu by 80%. It also reduces the chance that you’ll make me sick and in my mind that’s worth it!

Bugging Off!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Don’t let the wool be pulled over your eyes!

Since the first blog hit the air in May, Lee and I have strived to provide educational and entertaining ways to talk about chemical disinfectants. From what to consider when choosing a product to how you can ensure a successful cleaning and disinfection program regardless of your facility type. While certainly drawing on our experience, the content has always been factual and credible. Which leads me to this week’s topic – how to spot the wolf in sheep’s clothing. Helpful tips to use to identify if the information you’ve been given or read about in a magazine or journal is factual and credible.

We are inundated on a daily basis with emails, advertisements in journals and magazines, meetings with sales reps, vendor tables at education conferences, etc. it’s a wonder that anyone can make heads or tails out of the fodder. As Dr. Syed Sattar expressed in his blog “Stop the Smoke and Mirrors” (http://ow.ly/7lzcJ) there are a number of areas that need improvement not only from a product development and registration perspective, but also from a decision maker perspective to ensure as a chemical disinfectant consumer we are asking and looking for relevant criteria when making a product choice. Aside from the contact times, product claims, and educational support we should also refuse to receive or allow companies to pull the wool over our eyes when it comes to advertising or marketing claims.

Advertorials – advertisements that mimic or imitate editorial format is one of the newer methods that companies are using to provide more detailed information to the potential end user. While somewhere on the page you will generally find a blanket statement “This is a paid advertising supplement. The contents do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the publisher” the type may be small and the formatting laid out in such a way as to make it difficult for the reader to understand if this is editorial content or advertorial content. To the unsuspecting, advertorials in a scientific journal may be confused with peer reviewed content. Hence the need to remember; Do not always believe everything you read!

A recent advertorial in a well respected Infection Control Journal claims that cleaning beats disinfection and that the reliance on disinfecting to decontaminate the healthcare environment has lead to an increase in HAIs. As a chemical disinfectant educator, the importance of cleaning as part of the disinfection process is extremely important, however, regardless of the “science” behind such spurious claims, to ensure a successful infection control program we must utilize the currently accepted guidelines, governmental mandates and legislation and of course, common sense. To ensure you are looking at both sides of the story and have the pertinent information to make an educated decision I hope you’ll consider the following the next time you read an advertorial.

  1. Are the facts stated in the advertorial backed up by peer reviewed publications? It is important to realize that there are a number of independent labs available for hire to conduct testing, many of which are not accredited to provide data to regulatory agencies responsible for registering disinfectants. We need to consider the following: was the testing conducted in a manner that would withstand peer review? Will the data meet the scrutiny of a regulatory body for support on a Health Canada or EPA registered label?

  2. If the advertorial references a study, verify if the study has in fact been published and obtain a copy to review. Is the reference from a peer reviewed source or is the reference from a research project? If from a research project, will it be published in a peer reviewed publication? Has it been presented at a scientific conference? Does the study minimize biases?

  3. The guidelines we follow are based on scientific evidence and designed to provide best practices to ensure positive patient safety outcomes. Is there sufficient science to support following recommendations from an advertorial that do not adhere to the guidelines?

  4. Does the information described in the advertorial agree with current regulations? If an adverse event were to take place, would your facility be cited for not adhering to mandated regulations? For example, the Occupational Health and Safety Act specifies that an employer MUST take every precaution to protect workers from risk of infection. If current best practices recommend the use of disinfectants for decontamination of surfaces or devices that may pose a risk, what are the legal ramifications to your facility if you do not use a disinfectant?

  5. What does your gut tell you? Is the advertorial a wolf in sheep’s clothing or, after review of the data, is the advertorial a factual and credible piece of information that should be considered in more detail?

I firmly believe that members of the chemical disinfectant industry have a wealth of credible information that the infection control and public health communities can benefit from and in general, most companies strive to provide factual and credible product information. But like any industry there will always be some who try to pull the wool over our eyes. It’s up to everyone to call them on it. Next time you read an advertorial be sure you have both sides of the story and keep the following in mind - Fool me once, shame on you; Fool me twice, shame on me!

Bugging Off!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Preventative Maintenance – It’s Not Just for Your Car

For those of you that have been following our blog from the beginning, or those of you whom have joined us more recently but took the time to go back and read our early posts, you’ll recall my love of fine automobiles. I don’t think any of us would argue that following a strict preventative maintenance schedule for our vehicles – whether it’s a Kia or Porsche – is critically important to the longevity, safety, efficiency and performance of the vehicle. To put it plainly, we all readily recognize the importance of regular oil changes, tire rotations and fluid checks. Unfortunately for me, the maintenance costs for my beloved Porsche 911 Turbo are just another reason I’ll likely never be able to afford to own one.

Why then, when dealing with automated dilution control systems which are responsible for the safe, accurate and efficient dilution and dispensing of disinfectant chemicals, do we not necessarily share the same recognition for the importance of preventative maintenance and quality control? For instance, when was the last time your organization verified that all dilution control systems were working effectively? Considering these units single handedly control the concentration of disinfectant and thereby the effectiveness of that product, they have the potential to play a critical role in an organization’s overall infection prevention and control practices. A study conducted by Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) in 2009 identified the importance of conducting regular quality control checks on chemical dispensers and having a preventative maintenance plan in place to ensure their continued effective operation. Unfortunately for HHS, it was an increase in infection rates that prompted this plan of action to be implemented and for them to share their story with us. By no means had HHS been negligent, this was simply the standard of practice in most healthcare facilities at the time. Regardless, their findings were eye opening for many and had numerous healthcare facilities evaluating their practices.

So what does an effective quality control and preventative maintenance plan look like? It can take many forms, but the foundation of one includes the regular confirmatory testing of the diluted product and a schedule to examine and replace any components in the dispenser that may wear over time. By testing the active ingredient concentration of diluted solution on a regular basis (quarterly or monthly dependent on degree of risk) this will ensure any issues are potentially identified prior to posing a major risk. An annual or bi-annual overview of the dispenser itself will also assist in identifying any components that may fail and cause future issues.

Do you wait for your check engine light to come on before you proceed with changing your oil or checking your fluids? Likely not. So why wait for infection rates to increase before you verify that your dilution control systems are working properly? A preventative maintenance plan with a regular quality control measure will ensure the safe and effective operation of these units ensuring that the disinfectant in use is being used at the correct concentration and the desired results are being attained.

Hasta la vista!
Lee – The Germinator