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A veterinary clinic cleaning protocol: What it is and what to consider

A veterinary clinic cleaning protocol: What it is and what to consider

With the number of people and animals that pass through veterinary clinics daily, it is all too easy for germs and infections to spread. It is important to know what veterinary cleaning supplies should be used and how to properly disinfect and clean a veterinary practice. This includes disinfecting:

  • Staff areas
  • Waiting rooms
  • Surgical theatres
  • Treatment rooms

One of the best ways to stop germs and infections spreading is to implement a cleaning protocol in your veterinary clinic. The combination of industry guidelines and COVID-19 can make this a daunting task if you’re just starting out. In this article, we explain some of the guidelines around keeping your veterinary surgery safe and hygienic, as well as some key things to consider when creating a cleaning protocol for veterinary hospitals.

What is a cleaning protocol?

What is a cleaning protocol?

Every veterinary clinic should create a cleaning protocol, or if one already exists, it needs to be posted where all staff can see it easily. Staff should also be briefed on the cleaning tasks they should complete, and infection control measures they should implement. An example of a cleaning protocol is a document that lists duties that must be completed daily/hourly, and that can be ticked when completed.

Duties can be appointed to shift leaders who have the responsibility of ensuring that everything is completed. Below is an example of what a veterinary clinic cleaning protocol document could look like:

Location Who is responsible? Times cleaned Date
Waiting room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Front desk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Treatment room 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Treatment room 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surgery theatre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kennel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pharmacy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What to consider when creating a veterinary clinic cleaning protocol

What to consider when creating a veterinary clinic cleaning protocol

When creating a cleaning protocol, you should take into consideration that certain areas will need more rigorous disinfection than others.

For example, staff areas like the pharmacy, where the public and animals don’t go, will not need to have every surface disinfected daily. Areas where animals are treated such as surgical theatres should be cleaned more regularly.

Infection control measures should also be implemented throughout the day. There are items that should be placed conveniently around the clinic, such as:

This makes it easy for staff and customers to immediately clean anything that comes into contact with animals.

There are other things you should consider when creating a cleaning protocol, including infection control measures, what products to use and how to use them:

 

Hand hygiene in a veterinary clinic

Hand hygiene in a veterinary clinic

 

What to do

A veterinarian should clean their hands before and after an appointment. This could be with soap and water or hand sanitiser.

Why you should do it

Public Health England estimates that more than four million people in Europe suffer with a healthcare-associated infection (HAI) every year, and approximately 37,000 die as a result of the infection. They state that HAI’s could be prevented with more hand hygiene measures implemented in healthcare environments. 

In a veterinary clinic, hand hygiene will reduce the number of microorganisms acquired from an animal, another person or contaminated equipment. It also helps prevent them from spreading to anything else – person or animal.

How to do it

The World Health Organisation recommends 5 moments when a medical professional should wash their hands:

  1. Before touching a patient
  2. Before clean/aseptic procedures
  3. After body fluid exposure risk
  4. After touching a patient
  5. After touching patient surroundings

What you can use

In light of the recent Coronavirus pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol. Here are some examples of products that you can use to implement hand hygiene in a veterinary clinic: 

Stero-san hand sanitiser – Contains 70% alcohol and is available in a 500ml bottle or 50ml spray bottle with clip. Kills 99.999% of germs. 

PDI Hygea Hand Wipes – Come in individual sachets so they are easy to carry. They kill 99.99% of germs.

 

Veterinary protective clothing

Veterinary protective clothing

 

What to do

A veterinarian should wear personal protective equipment and dispose of any items that are intended to only be used once.

Why you should do it

PPE prevents any contamination to a veterinarian’s clothes and skin, which reduces the transmission of pathogens between patients and veterinary staff.

Due to the current pandemic, veterinarians are required to wear face masks. Not only do they protect a veterinarian’s face from any contamination during appointments, but they will also protect them from catching or spreading diseases such as Coronavirus.

How to do it

You should use disposable PPE when possible and make sure that any reusable PPE, such as goggles, are maintained so that risk is minimised. For example, if an item of reusable PPE becomes heavily contaminated, or damaged, you should remove and replace it. 

When putting on and removing PPE, make sure you put it on and remove it in such a way that minimises contamination. The following order has been recommended by the CDC when putting on PPE (do it in reverse when removing the PPE): 

  1. Gown
  2. Face masks or respirator
  3. Googles or face shield
  4. Gloves

What you can use

Surgical face masks – Type IIR and medical-grade with 3 layers with a splash-resistant hydrophobic layer. Effective against germs. 

Gloves – Nitrile powder-free gloves – powder-free to reduce the risk of contamination. 

Aprons – Disposable plastic aprons that protect you from body fluids that might splash onto your clothes. 

Disposable shoes – Prevents contact of the shoe’s sole with the floor, reducing contamination.

 

Veterinary waste management

Veterinary waste management

 

What to do

When it comes to veterinary waste disposal, the British Veterinary Association states that “veterinary waste consists of both hazardous and non-hazardous waste, all of which must be segregated, classified, described, packaged, labelled, and disposed of in line with regulatory requirements.”

This means that the extensive range of equipment that veterinary practices use daily, such as needles, must be disposed of correctly. Waste such as organic matter and soiled laundry must also be disposed of correctly.

Why you should do it

Contaminated sharps, such as needles and blades, have the potential risk of passing on infection. 

Organic matter, such as faeces, urine and blood, contain potentially infectious microorganisms.

How to do it

Sharps should be placed into a sharps bin after use and organic matter or anything that is soiled, such as laundry, should be placed into waste bags.  

Usually, laundry can be washed, however, if it gets extremely soiled, you should throw it out to prevent the potentially infectious microorganisms from being spread all over the hospital.

What you can use

Sharps bins – Allows you to safely dispose of sharp objects such as needles and blades. 

Clinical waste bags– Allows you to safely and easily dispose of waste, such as gowns, gloves and any other contaminated PPE. 

Biohazard kits– For safe and effective handling, containment, disinfection, and disposal of body fluids. Contains absorbent powder.

 

Cleaning hard surfaces

Cleaning hard surfaces

 

What to do

When cleaning a veterinary clinic, all rooms should be regularly disinfected.

Rooms with low patient contact such as the front desk should be cleaned biweekly and should be cleaned immediately if visibly soiled with body fluids. 

Rooms with high patient contact such as exam rooms and kennels should be cleaned and disinfected between all patients. Visible debris should be removed, and then disinfectant should be applied, with contact time ensured as per the label’s instructions.

Vertical surfaces such as walls, doors and windows should be cleaned monthly and immediately cleaned if visibly soiled with body fluids. 

Hard floors such as tile or cement should be cleaned and disinfected daily and after potentially infectious patients have been around. They should be cleaned immediately if visibly soiled with body fluids. 

Carpets should be vacuumed weekly and steam cleaned if there is any visible dirt or debris.

Why you should do it

Regularly disinfecting rooms will cut down the spread of pathogens, reducing the chance that any animals or people contract or spread germs and bacteria.

How to do it

To properly disinfect a surface in a veterinary practice, you should follow this simple three-step process: 

  1. Remove organic materials such as faeces, urine, blood and dirt with wipes or a biohazard kit

  2. Thoroughly clean the surface with soap, rinse and then dry

  3. Apply disinfectant and allow it to sit for the required contact time. Rinse with a damp cloth and dry

What you can use

Steriliser – Kills 99.9% of germs including bacteria, fungi and viruses whilst eliminating the need for rinsing. 

PDI universal wipes – Alcohol-free disposable disinfection wipes for non-porous hard surfaces and non-invasive medical devices. 

Steroclenz rapid surface sanitiser – Sporicidal disinfectant that kills up to 99.999% of germs in seconds and is effective against germs and viruses.

 

Creating a cleaning protocol can be difficult but using the right methods and equipment can make it a lot easier and can keep the public and staff safe. For more information on our range of hygiene and sterilisation products, or for wound care and rehabilitation products such as bandages, tapes, and dressings, check out our veterinary essentials page.

Are you a pet owner?

If you are a pet owner, you can find out how to pet-proof your home in our blog '5 household hazards you need to consider before getting a new dog'. In our latest blogs, you can also find out what should be included in a pet's first aid kit and how to safely clean your dog's eyes.


 

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