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Using a human-factors engineering approach to evaluate environmental cleaning in Veterans' Affairs acute and long-term care facilities: A qualitative analysis.

McKinley LL, Goedken CC, Balkenende EC, Hockett Sherlock SM, Knobloch MJ, Bartel R, Perencevich EN, Reisinger HS, Safdar N. Using a human-factors engineering approach to evaluate environmental cleaning in Veterans' Affairs acute and long-term care facilities: A qualitative analysis. Infection control and hospital epidemiology. 2023 Oct 24; 1-9.

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BACKGROUND: Environmental cleaning is important in the interruption of pathogen transmission. Although prevention initiatives have targeted environmental cleaning, practice variations exist and compliance is low. Evaluation of human factors influencing variations in cleaning practices can be valuable in developing interventions to standardized practices. We conducted a work-system analysis using a human-factors engineering (HFE) framework to identify barriers and facilitators to environmental cleaning practices in acute and long-term care settings within the Veterans'' Affairs health system. METHODS: We conducted a qualitative study with key stakeholders at 3 VA facilities. We analyzed transcripts for thematic content and mapped themes to the HFE framework. RESULTS: Staffing consistency was felt to improve cleaning practices and teamwork. We found that many environmental management service (EMS) staff were veterans who were motivated to serve fellow veterans, especially to prevent infections. However, hiring veterans comes with regulatory hurdles that affect staffing. Sites reported some form of monitoring their cleaning process, but there was variation in method and frequency. The EMS workload was affected by whether rooms were occupied by patients or were semiprivate rooms; both were reportedly more difficult to clean. Room design and surface finishes were identified as important to cleaning efficiency. CONCLUSION: HFE work analysis identified barriers and facilitators to environmental cleaning. These findings highlight intervention entry points that may facilitate standardized work practices. There is a need to develop task-specific procedures such as cleaning occupied beds and semiprivate rooms. Future research should evaluate interventions that address these determinants of environmental cleaning.

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