Infection control in Irish hospitals is a serious problem as the superbugs are constantly developing resistance to disinfectants. In spite of hospital cleaning regimens, the bacteria can form spores which survive for months or even years in the environment. When a serious outbreak occurs, preventing cross-infection and the further spread of endemic strains requires effective control measures.
In years gone by, there was no range of sophisticated cleaning agents available to disinfect a room following a case of infectious disease. The room was sealed off and a combination of disinfectant and a formalin lamp was used to decontaminate the air.
Here’s another excerpt from Home Nursing in the early 1900’s…
Disinfecting the Sick-Room
Whenever possible the help of a Sanitary Inspector should be sought. If this is not available:-
1. Open all cupboards and drawers, and hang up dressing-gown and blankets on a clotheshorse or on cords stretched across the room
2. Paste paper over the fireplace, the framework of the windows, and all other crevices except those about the door.
3. Paste ready for use the strips of paper required for the door and the keyhole.
4. Place a formalin lamp on a metal tray (as a precaution against fire) raised from the floor; ignite it, and leave the room quickly. To disinfect a large room, several lamps placed about it will be required.
5. Close the door; cover the crevices about the door and the keyhole with the prepared strips of paper.
6. Keep the room closed for twelve hours.
7. Re-enter the room, open the windows wide, uncover the fireplace, and allow the room to remain in this state for another twelve hours.
8. Send the bedding and mattress to be dis-infected.
9. Burn all books, letters, etc., which have been in the room.
After her duties are finished the home nurse must disinfect herself, taking precisely the precautions which has adopted for her patient.