Evaluation of daily environmental cleaning and disinfection practices in veterans affairs acute and long-term care facilities: A mixed methods study


      • Cleaning variations occur within the complexity of healthcare settings.
      • Using a mixed method design identified significant determinants of practice variation.
      • A significant barrier to cleaning was observed in semi-private patient rooms.
      • A significant facilitator to cleaning was detected with patient absence from the room.


      To describe daily environmental cleaning and disinfection practices and their associations with cleaning rates while exploring contextual factors experienced by healthcare workers involved in the cleaning process.


      A convergent mixed methods approach using quantitative observations (ie, direct observation of environmental service staff performing environmental cleaning using a standardized observation form) and qualitative interviews (ie, semistructured interviews of key healthcare workers) across 3 Veterans Affairs acute and long-term care facilities.


      Between December 2018 and May 2019 a total of sixty-two room observations (N = 3602 surfaces) were conducted. The average observed surface cleaning rate during daily cleaning in patient rooms was 33.6% for all environmental surfaces and 60.0% for high-touch surfaces (HTS). Higher cleaning rates were observed with bathroom surfaces (Odds Ratio OR = 3.23), HTSs (OR = 1.57), and reusable medical equipment (RME) (OR = 1.40). Lower cleaning rates were observed when cleaning semiprivate rooms (OR = 0.71) and rooms in AC (OR = 0.56). In analysis stratified by patient presence (ie, present, or absent) in the room during cleaning, patient absence was associated with higher cleaning rates for HTSs (OR = 1.71). In addition, the odds that bathroom surfaces being cleaned more frequently than bedroom surfaces decreased (OR = 1.97) as well as the odds that private rooms being cleaned more frequently than semi-private rooms also decreased (OR = 0.26; 0.07-0.93). Between January and June 2019 eighteen qualitative interviews were conducted and found key themes (ie, patient presence and semiprivate rooms) as potential barriers to cleaning; this supports findings from the quantitative analysis.


      Overall observed rates of daily cleaning of environmental surfaces in both acute and long-term care was low. Standardized environmental cleaning practices to address known barriers, specifically cleaning practices when patients are present in rooms and semi-private rooms are needed to achieve improvements in cleaning rates.

      Key words


      Environmental Cleaning (VA), CleanR (Study)
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