Environmental Services

Teresa Chou, MPH, MS, RN, CIC Manager, Epidemiology and Infection Prevention and Control

Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center
Chicago, IL

October 2, 2014


There is increasing evidence that the healthcare environment is an important source of healthcare-associated infections. Every facility must thoroughly clean its environment to prevent it from developing into a reservoir for pathogens. The cleaning needs vary by facility and are assessed by a team of experts. These experts are responsible for providing leadership, establishing effective cleaning protocols, preparing regular cleaning schedules, writing policies and procedures, selecting the appropriate cleaning agents and equipment, and hiring and training staff. They are also prepared to address unexpected situations such as outbreaks, natural disasters, back orders on supplies, unavailability of equipment, and staff shortages. Proper education and training of environmental services personnel are critical components of an effective program. Staff must be educated and trained upon hire, at regular intervals thereafter, and as needed. Programs should be developed to assess the efficacy of the environmental services activities. Even when performance improvement measures are outstanding, there is always room for improvement. Patients, visitors, and personnel expect and deserve a clean environment.

This chapter addresses hand hygiene, disinfection, bloodborne pathogen exposure, laundry and linen, and waste management practices as applicable to environmental services. For more in-depth discussion of these topics, please refer to their respective chapters in this Text.