Controlling Bed Bugs in a Hospital Setting

November 3, 2014 by Doug Moore

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Encountering a bed bug infestation in a hospital is not uncommon. According to a survey of 4,500 Pest Management Professionals conducted in 2010, 31% of them reported bed bug infestations in hospitals, up from 12% a year ago.

A hospital, with the constant flux of patients, employees, staff and visitors offers many opportunities for the introduction of bed bugs. Hospitals care for large numbers of people who may be immobilized for one reason or another, and often for days at a time.

This creates an ideal situation for bed bugs to flourish in their bedding. As bedding is changed, bed bugs can drop off and spread throughout the hospital causing widespread infestations quite quickly.

The control of bed bugs in a complex environment, such as a hospital, starts with a thorough understanding of the pest by the staff and the implementation of a strong preventative program. While introduction of bed bugs cannot be prevented, a hospital that has the following operational measures in place will be able to quickly identify, address and control a bed bug infestation:

• Hospital staff should have a basic understanding of the identification and biology of bed bugs to quickly recognize the signs of an infestation.

• The hospital should have a standard procedure in place to notify the proper authorities within the hospital of the potential problem.

• Housekeeping staff should be very well-trained in the identification and signs of bed bugs in laundry including bed bugs in the bed sheets. They should be able to identify fecal and blood spots, cast skins, eggs, and the various instars (nymphs) of the bed bugs themselves.

• Having the ability to track where the bed sheets came from within the hospital is critical to quickly locate and control the infestation. Laundry and bed sheets should be labeled by department, floor and room within the hospital, to quickly locate possible infestations.

• Periodic inspections of beds, bed sheets, bed frames, bed headboards, wheelchairs and any other medical equipment fitted with cushions or fabrics should be standard policy.

• Hospital staff associated with emergency areas of the hospital should be aware of bed bugs and their appearance of bites and question incoming patients when the suspicion of bed bugs arises.

Canine inspections should be performed, on a quarterly basis at minimum, in areas of the hospital where bed bug infestations could be found without causing alarm or intrusion upon patients. Discretion is key! Such areas would include loading docks, employee locker areas, emergency areas, offices, and areas where equipment is stored, used, and returned after use. Hospital owned vehicles, most notably ambulances and ambulettes used to transport patients, should also be inspected.

• Those managing the actual awareness, surveillance and preventative processes should understand the range of control measures that they may use and how they are used in the various settings within the hospital. For example, covering beds with a mattress liner that can kill bed bugs will help prevent infestations before they establish and spread throughout a hospital.

To control bed bugs in a hospital setting diligence, ongoing education of hospital staff and having a bed bug prevention plan in place are the best preventive measures.

For more information about bed bugs, heat treatment, and canine bed bug scent detection, click here.

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