Cornwall-based Rosemullion Veterinary Practice reports a 25% improvement in staff compliance with hygiene protocols and the elimination of the growth of bacterial pathogens as a result of conducting an infection control programme at its a 100-staff multi-site practice.

First, the practice carried out an infection control audit to ensure its protocols were robust.

The audit covered the cleaning of clinical areas, non-clinical areas (including offices, reception desks, kltchens and bathrooms), and the personal hygiene of staff members (including hand hygiene and work wear).

Using using the Nationwide Laboratory practice cleanliness screening programme, Rosemullion then conducted environmental swabbing of 10 clinical and non-clinical areas around the practice, including theatre tables, kennels, telephones and door handles, to review contamination levels.

Results showed varying levels of bacterial contamination in both clinical and non-clinical areas.

Finally, Rosemullion assessed personal hygiene and the potential for cross-contamination between patients, colleagues and the environment.

Staff were asked to complete an anonymous ‘Hygiene Self-assessment Questionnaire’ which covered ten areas, including; disinfecting hands; wearing gloves, scrubs with short sleeves and dedicated work shoes, and changing into uniforms when arriving at work.

Amongst clinical staff, there was a 66.75% compliance.

The team then discussed the results, consulted a lab microbiologist and formulated an improvement plan, which included updating the practice cleaning processes (including the cleaning of new touch points), introducing new colleague uniform rules (including changing into uniform upon arrival at work), improving hand hygiene (including providing hand gels for all colleagues) and using sanitising wipes in all office areas.

One month after the policy revisions, swab tests were repeated. They found no bacterial growth in any of the 10 previously swabbed areas.

After two months the colleague questionnaire was run again.

It found clinical colleague compliance over eight personal hygiene indicators had jumped from 66.75% to 92.5% compliance.

Abi Redfearn, Senior Veterinary Nurse at Rosemullion, said: “When we opened in 2021, we were keen to monitor our infection control - as part of providing a hospital level of care under the RCVS Practice Standards Scheme.

"With around 100 colleagues and hundreds of patients passing through our doors every week, we are an extremely busy practice – so infection control is paramount in maintaining high clinical standards.

“By updating our protocols and taking simple steps - such as providing sanitising materials in high-touch areas – we’ve significantly decreased the risk of environmental contamination.

"Our project is now being used as an example to encourage other practices.”

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