Are Patient Rooms Sinks Necessary? HCD Magazine

Recently, I spent 14 complete days with a circle of relatives member on vital care, stepdown, and acute care surgical devices. During that point, now not as soon as did I see a clinician or some other clinic group of workers use the handwashing sink within the affected person room. Instead, every individual both used alcohol-based sanitizer (ABHS) and/or donned disposable gloves.

In the vital care and stepdown rooms, the sink used to be situated proper within the door; at the older surgical unit, it used to be throughout from the foot of the mattress—each places visual and obtainable.

This were given me considering—have protocols modified, particularly since covid, Should healthcare designers reconsider the desire for, or location of, a affected person room handwashing sink?

History of handwashing stations

The 2001 version of the FGI Healthcare Facility Guidelines used to be the primary time Facility Guidelines Institute incorporated the requirement in new building {that a} handwashing station be equipped within the affected person room along with a sink in the bathroom room. The goal used to be that positioning a handwashing sink station close to the doorway of the room would supply unobstructed get entry to to be used through healthcare staff and others and inspire hand hygiene compliance, a most sensible protocol for shielding sufferers and group of workers from probably fatal germs. Subsequent analysis has indicated that sufferers most well-liked seeing group of workers wash their arms. Historically, hand washing compliance through group of workers between seeing sufferers used to be low at many establishments.

A yr later, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised its collective hand hygiene pointers to acknowledge the efficacy of ABHS merchandise as a secondary sanitizing resolution if cleaning soap and water weren’t to be had or if time saving used to be essential. Afterwards, ABHS use proliferated on the access to affected person rooms and during the clinic.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, gloves have been beneficial when taking good care of COVID-19 sufferers, despite the fact that there used to be no direct proof that the usage of gloves higher coverage when put next with correct hand hygiene. Hand washing or ABHS used to be nonetheless beneficial through the CDC prior to and after every affected person touch, both without or with gloves, and when gloves have been got rid of.

Now it kind of feels that many group of workers participants have transform happy with the added coverage and are proceeding to make use of gloves.

Unintended penalties of in-room sinks

Water entering sinks comprises micro organism that’s not a chance to a wholesome individual however will also be very unhealthy to anyone who’s immune suppressed or another way weakened in an inpatient room.

Bacteria can proliferate in pipes as biofilms, a slimy matrix of microorganisms through which cells stick to one another and likewise to a floor. Biofilms are tricky to get rid of, requiring extensive disinfection at common periods.

This is particularly a subject matter if the sink is not devoted to handwashing by myself and different physically fluids are being dumped into them, inflicting infectious organisms to splash onto the counter or transform aerosolized. affected person is one of the simplest ways to forestall clinic obtained infections or if its inadvertently inflicting them?

Evolving pointers on sinks in healthcare amenities

In February 2023, The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology (SHEA) in collaboration with a couple of associations printed new pointers to “highlight practical recommendations to assist acute-care hospitals in prioritization and implementation of strategies to prevent healthcare-associated infections through hand hygiene.”

In the checklist of crucial practices, the information’ focal point on selling group of workers’s wholesome pores and skin and nails that would transform dry and cracked and result in an infection. The record emphasizes “the preferential use of ABHS in most clinical situations” as a result of it’s been proven to be awesome to handwashing in protecting hand pores and skin integrity.

The new pointers counsel that ABHS dispensers be put in each outside and inside affected person rooms and that hand moisturizer is quickly to be had, too. Through the clinic, the group means that sure sinks will have to be devoted to handwashing by myself. Additionally, medicines or affected person care provides will have to now not be saved on counter tops or cell surfaces inside of 3 toes of the sink.

The CDC has additionally said that until arms are visibly dirty an alcohol-based hand rub is most well-liked over cleaning soap and water in maximum medical eventualities because of proof of higher compliance in comparison to cleaning soap and water. “Hand rubs are generally less irritating to hands and, in the absence of a sink, are an effective method of cleaning hands,” the group states in its hand hygiene steering.

Room for dialogue

In normal, it kind of feels not one of the professional organizations are dictating but the elimination of handwashing stations from affected person rooms. Instead, they appear to signify the most efficient manner, if equipped, is freestanding toilets with out counter tops, situated outdoor every affected person room or in an access alcove.

Anecdotally, colleagues have reported that some states, comparable to Pennsylvania, at the moment are allowing variances for inpatient rooms with out handwashing stations in new mattress towers.

Looking forward, the subject of whether or not handwashing stations will have to nonetheless be required in affected person rooms, the place they will have to be situated, and the way they will have to be appointed will probably be a worthy one for FGI to believe in its present evaluate cycle for the 2026 newsletter of its Healthcare Facility Guidelines,

Sheila Cahnman, FAIA, FACHA, LEED AP, is president, JumpGarden Consulting LLC, She will also be reached at,

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