CVS practice Rosemullion, has run an outstanding infection control programme at their multi-site, 100 colleague veterinary practice based in Devon.
Environmental swab results show it has eliminated growth of bacterial pathogens that were screened for and found within the practice, whilst clinical colleague self-assessed hygiene results have improved to an average of 92.5%.
Infection control in a clinical environment is important to maintain high clinical standards. Patients carry a wide range of bacteria that can be transferred to a clinical environment. It is important that processes for infection control prevent any contamination being spread to other patients, colleagues, or clients. Though veterinary environments are not sterile, cleaning and disinfection can reduce the environmental burden.
To maintain a clean working environment and prevent cross-contamination in clinical and non-clinical areas, Rosemullion first carried out a rigorous infection control audit to ensure their protocols were robust. During the audit, the following practice processes were checked:
- Cleaning of clinical areas – including theatre, preparation and consultation rooms
- Cleaning of non-clinical areas – including offices, reception desks, kitchens and bathrooms
- Personal hygiene of staff members – including hand hygiene and work wear
Rosemullion then conducted environmental swabbing of 10 key clinical and non-clinical areas around the practice – from theatre tables and kennels to phones and door handles – to review contamination levels. This was carried out using the Nationwide Laboratory practice cleanliness screening programme. Results showed varying levels of bacterial contamination in both clinical and non-clinical areas.
Finally, Rosemullion assessed personal hygiene and the potential for cross-contamination between patients, colleagues and the environment. Here colleagues were asked to complete an anonymous ‘Hygiene Self-assessment Questionnaire’. It covered ten areas, including; disinfecting hands; wearing gloves, scrubs with short sleeves and dedicated work shoes; and changing into uniforms when arriving at work. In clinical colleagues there was a 66.75% compliance.
To improve infection control the Rosemullion team discussed the results, consulted a lab microbiologist and formulated an improvement plan. This comprised: updating the practice cleaning processes, including the cleaning of new touch points; introducing new colleague uniform rules, including changing into uniform upon arrival at work; improving hand hygiene, including providing hand gels for all colleagues; and using sanitising wipes in all office areas
One month after the policy revisions swab tests were repeated. It was found no bacterial growth in any of the 10 previously swabbed areas. After two months the colleague questionnaire was run again. It found clinical colleague compliance over eight personal hygiene indicators had jumped from 66.75% to 92.5% compliance.
Abi Redfearn, Senior Veterinary Nurse at Rosemullion, said: “When we opened in 2021, we were keen to monitor our infection control – as part of providing a hospital level of care under the RCVS Practice Standards Scheme. With around 100 colleagues and hundreds of patients passing through our doors every week, we are an extremely busy practice – so infection control is paramount in maintaining high clinical standards.”
“By updating our protocols and taking simple steps – such as providing sanitising materials in high-touch areas – we’ve significantly decreased the risk of environmental contamination. Our project is now being used as an example to encourage other practices.”
Rosemullion Veterinary Practice has this year been awarded ‘Champion’ in the RCVS Knowledge Awards for Quality Improvement for their work in improving infection control processes in their practice group.