Cleaning protocols and procedures are a vital part of effective infection prevention and control in all healthcare settings. This includes veterinary clinics.
In this post we’ll outline the essential principles of a veterinary clinic cleaning and disinfection protocol.
Please note that this post is just intended to provide a basic introduction to the subject, to give you an overview of what you should include in your veterinary clinic cleaning and disinfection protocol. Also, cleaning protocols are just one of many standard infection control precautions. Read our full guide to standard infection precautions.
Why Do Veterinary Clinics Need Cleaning and Disinfection Protocols?
Infections can spread in any healthcare setting, and veterinary clinics are no exception. Regular and thorough cleaning is a vital part of infection control, as it can remove any pathogens that might linger on surfaces and objects.
Common Healthcare Associated Infections (HAI)
Common healthcare associated infections (HAI) include:
- Surgical site infections.
- Clostridium difficile.
- Colds, Flus, and Covid-19.
- Veterinary specific infections, including peritonitis and calicivirus.
Read our full guide to healthcare associated infections.
How HAIs Spread
These infections spread in a number of ways. Some can spread as a result of treatments. Others are communicable diseases, which can be spread from person-to-person, or through indirect contact with surfaces and objects containing pathogens.
In veterinary settings, as well as spreading from person-to-person, infections can also spread from person-to-animal, from animal-to-person, and from animal-to-animal.
Veterinary Clinic Cleaning and Disinfection Protocols – Essential Principles
To begin with, make sure that all areas of your veterinary clinic are as well-organised and clear of clutter as possible.
This will improve your operational efficiency, as everyone in your practice will always know where everything is. But it will also help with infection control and cleaning.
The less clutter in your clinic, the less you’ll have to clean. Less clutter also means there’ll be fewer objects on which pathogens can take hold.
Infection Risk Assessment for Veterinary Clinics
Carry out a risk assessment of every area of your veterinary clinic, identifying any areas where infections may be more likely to take hold and spread. High-risk areas include any areas where members of the public gather and share facilities, such as your waiting room, along with all consultation and treatment areas.
You should also carry out a risk assessment for all of your medical equipment. Depending on how and where it’s used, your equipment will either carry a low, medium, or high infection risk. And you’ll have to carry out different decontamination procedures depending on the risk. Read our full guide to the different levels of risk and decontamination for medical equipment.
You should also carry out a risk assessment of any cleaning products and disinfectants you intend to use in your veterinary clinic. This involves ensuring that the products you use won’t damage any delicate equipment, and that they’re safe for use in public areas (e.g., they won’t produce any potentially harmful fumes).
Standard Operating Procedures for Veterinary Clinic Cleaning and Disinfection
Aim to create a standard operating procedure (SOP) regarding your cleaning and disinfection protocols. Your risk assessments will help you create your SOP, as you’ll be able to outline which areas, and which equipment, requires the most care and attention.
The SOP can also advise on the safe and effective use of any cleaning products and disinfectant. For example, you can advise staff on the steps they should take if they accidentally spill a product or splash it in their eyes. You can also advise on the correct storage procedures for your disinfectants, based on the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Overall, your cleaning and disinfection SOP should provide clear guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting every area of your veterinary clinic. Ideally, you could include checklists to help your staff ensure they don’t overlook any key areas or procedures when carrying out their responsibilities.
Make your SOP easily accessible to all members of staff and be sure to review it regularly to ensure it’s still fit for purpose. For example, following an infection outbreak, you should conduct a thorough audit into how the infection started, and how it spread. You may choose to review your SOP based on your findings.
Advanced Infection Control Products for your Veterinary Clinic
We stock a full range of infection control products suitable for use in a veterinary clinic.
Our range includes:
- Clinic Cleaning Products. Including the Virusolve+ range of one step cleaner, sanitiser, and disinfectant solutions.
- Washroom Hygiene Supplies. Including automatic hand sanitiser dispensers.
- Absorbent Mats. For faster and more effective fluid management, to help you reduce infection risks and cleaning times.
- Spill Kits. For fast and effective responses to potentially hazardous spillages.