Context: Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) pose a substantial public health threat. Despite significant strides to curb HAIs in hospital environments, outpatient settings have not received the same degree of attention. Given their emphasis on holistic, patient-centered care, osteopathic family medicine offices are pivotal in both disease prevention and comprehensive patient treatment. The importance of simple yet effective disinfection protocols, such as thorough cleaning between patient appointments, cannot be overstated in these settings because they are integral to minimizing disease transmission.
Objectives: This study aims to assess the effectiveness of the current disinfection protocols in osteopathic family medicine offices.
Methods: A cross-sectional study evaluating disinfection practices on 18 examination tables in an osteopathic family medicine office was conducted. Two high-touch surfaces (midtorso region and table edge) were examined. Initial swab samples were collected after morning disinfection by Environmental Services, and terminal swab samples were gathered after day’s-end disinfection by the medical staff. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) bioluminescence assays were performed utilizing AccuPoint Advanced HC Reader, which quantified ATP, indicating contamination levels in the samples. The higher the ATP levels found in a sample, the greater the amount of biological contamination. All samplers were handled and tested as per manufacturer’s instructions. A preliminary trial was conducted to confirm the internal validity of ATP bioluminescence measurements. The statistical analysis involved Shapiro–Wilk and Wilcoxon signed-rank tests, with significance set at p<0.05. Cohen’s d test was utilized to calculate the effect size, identifying meaningful differences in initial and terminal swab sample relative light units (RLUs).
Results: The midtorso region demonstrated an 11.1 % increase in failure rate after terminal disinfection when compared to initial disinfection. A Wilcoxon signed-rank test revealed a median estimated pathogen level for the midtorso region that was higher after terminal disinfection (median, 193 RLUs; range, 1–690 RLUs; n=18) compared to initial disinfection (median, 134 RLUs; range, 4–946 RLUs; n=18). However, this increase was not statistically significant, p=0.9124, with a small effect size, d=0.04. The edge showed no change in failure rate after terminal disinfection, maintaining a 100 % failure rate both before and after disinfection. However, the Wilcoxon signed-rank test revealed a slight reduction in the median estimated pathogen levels after terminal disinfection (median, 2095 RLUs; range, 891–5,540 RLUs; n=18) compared to before disinfection (median, 2,257 RLUs; range, 932–5,825 RLUs; n=18). However, this reduction was not statistically significant, p=0.61, with a small effect size, d=0.12.
Conclusions: The findings from this study reveal a substantial disparity in outcomes between the two sample locations, midtorso and edge. The midtorso demonstrated a relatively low failure rate in both initial and terminal swab samples, indicating successful outcomes. In contrast, the edge consistently displayed a 100 % failure rate, emphasizing the need for more care and attention when cleaning the edge of the examination to ensure better outcomes. By prioritizing adequate disinfection protocols, including thorough cleaning between patients, osteopathic family medicine offices can more effectively prevent disease transmission and promote patient safety.