A team of Canadian scientists using a lotion that glows under ultraviolet light has shown that up to one-third of hospital patient toilets are not properly cleaned.
Their findings, published in the journal BMC Infectious Diseases, revealed that the bedpans for seven patients isolated with the bacterial infection, C. difficile, had not been properly cleaned 72 percent of the time.
The toilets fared slightly better than the bedpans, with half of the samples taken showing no residual UV lotion after cleaning.
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The lotion that was used in the study is sold by Brevis.com, says Michelle Alfa, a Manitoba, Canada researcher who led the study.
The 13 patients not in isolation had much cleaner toilets, with only 14 percent glowing brightly under UV light.
More worrisome, C. difficle was still found in 40 percent of samples taken from the cleanest toilets (those with no detectable UV marker).
"This suggests that both the physical cleaning action and the disinfectant were not effective in removing C. difficile from toilets," Alfa says.
"Our data suggest that without an agent with some activity against C. difficile spores, the physical action of cleaning alone cannot be relied upon to eradicate this organism from the toilets of patients who are shedding this type of spore," Alfa concludes.
She would recommend that monitoring with a UV marker become a routine part of a hospital's housekeeping program.