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Why Are Hospital Mattresses Harder to Disinfect Than Other Surfaces?


Edmond Hooker, MD, DrPH, professor, Health Services Administration at Xavier University, and emergency physician at the University of Cincinnati, explains why hospital mattresses are harder to disinfect than other harder surfaces.

Interview Transcript (modified slightly for readability):

“The key when you’re trying to clean is to disinfect everything to a high level, which we’re not currently doing. Currently, hospital hard surfaces are a lot easier to clean because the chemicals were made for hard surfaces. Unfortunately, the mattress is a soft, porous surface; it was intended to be that to stop all of the bed sores. And so, if you think about a 1970’s car with a vinyl seat, you sat in it, and you sweated, and you stuck to it, and that was miserable. Well, that’s not good for a patient either, and that’s what the mattresses used to be.

Now, we have changed to this breathable fabric. The fabric actually lets moisture get away from the patient; it’s very high-tech. The problem is, it’s porous and soft, and so, all of the chemicals that are being used are the wrong chemicals; they don’t work and they damage the fabric, which causes cracks and crevices that C. difficile and all of the different, nasty bugs can go down and hide in.”
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