Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) have been in the spotlight for the past several decades, but only recently has infection control and prevention become more of a focus for healthcare transport management.

Patient transporters are equivalent to the oil of a car engine; it’s their constant interaction between patients and healthcare workers that keep flow within a hospital smooth. What surprised us were some of the findings from a live interactive survey we conducted at the National Association of Healthcare Transport Management (NAHTM) conference in 2018 (of the 67 leaders invited, 37 responded for a 55% participation rate):

  • 78% felt that their facility wasn’t adequately addressing the risk of contamination of portable medical equipment (PME)
  • 57% felt that the transportation department has responsibility for the cleaning and disinfection of PME
  • 66% of respondents indicated that their facility has in-place written protocols for cleaning and decontamination of wheelchairs, compared to 61% for gurneys
  • Regarding frequency, periodic cleaning and disinfecting of wheelchairs is performed daily (45%), weekly (10%), monthly (12%), and inconsistently (33%); for gurneys it is performed daily (45%), weekly (15%), monthly (0%), and inconsistently (40%)
  • Protocol adherence is assured for the cleaning and disinfecting of wheelchairs through automated solutions (10%), manually-written records (37%), and other methods (random spot-check) (53%); for gurneys it’s assured through automated solutions (13%), manually-written records (28%), and other methods (random spot-check) (59%)

In our opinion, the most concerning aspect of the survey was that 78% of the respondents did not feel their facilities were adequately addressing the risk. Clearly, the healthcare transport management group as a whole can play a more active role in developing industry standards for the cleaning and disinfection of PME, seeking adjunctive technologies to supplement their processes, and collaborating with their multi-disciplinary colleagues to challenge the existing paradigms.