Kaiser Permanente bans interior building antimicrobials from its hospitals to curb antibiotic resistance, chemical exposure

Building on recent efforts to steer its facilities, builders and architects away from utilizing finishes and fabrics containing antimicrobial chemicals, Oakland, Calif-based Kaiser Permanente, the nation's largest integrated healthcare provider, has banned all paint and other interior building products treated with antimicrobials from all of its hospitals.

Driving factors for Kaiser's decision were the threat of enabling drug-resistant bacteria, which acclimate to low-levels of antimicrobials and render them less effective and concerns about patient harm from chemicals in the antimicrobial agents.

"Healthcare interiors can be beautiful spaces designed to inspire health and healing," John Kouletsis, vice president of facilities planning and design for Kaiser, said in a statement. "But lurking beneath the surface can be a surprising number of pollutants that are anything but benevolent. Our thought is that if there's a nonchemical way to solve a problem or there are greener products available that offer the same performance, we should pursue those as safer alternatives."

Prior to notifying suppliers it would no longer purchase products with antimicrobial agents, Kaiser consulted with infectious disease experts who cited 2003 findings from the CDC that properly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces will effectively kill pathogens without a need for antimicrobials and that proper hand washing by staff and patients is the most effective weapon.

Kaiser's antimicrobial ban is effective immediately and applies only to new construction projects and renovations that have not yet been purchased. A complete list of banned chemicals was included in a news release, found here.

More articles on infection control: 

How to properly clean medical scopes and improve patient safety: 10 steps
Report: Unsafe injection practices a serious patient safety issue
Bacteria with 'last resort' antibiotic resistance gene turns up in Denmark, China

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