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Nursing issues
Visualising the invisible; why cleaning is important in the control of hospital-acquired infection
  1. Stephanie Dancer1,2
  1. 1 Department of Microbiology, Hairmyres Hospital, NHS Lanarkshire, Glasgow, UK
  2. 2 School of Applied Sciences, Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Stephanie Dancer, Department of Microbiology, Hairmyres Hospital, NHS Lanarkshire, Glasgow G758RG, UK; stephanie.dancer{at}, s.dancer{at}

Statistics from

Commentary on: Cohen B, Spirito CM, Liu J, Cato KD, Larson E. Concurrent detection of bacterial pathogens in hospital roommates. Nurs Res 2019;68(1):80–83.

Implications for practice and research

  • Nurses must give environmental cleaning the same level of priority as hand hygiene for infection prevention.

  • More study is required into the most effective equipment, products and techniques for cleaning hospitals.


The problem with controlling hospital pathogens is that they are invisible to the human eye. From pioneers such as Pasteur, Koch and Lister, who purported microscopic ‘insects’, to early infection preventionists advocating clean hands, air and surfaces, all were shunned by peers and public alike.1 Evidence for the role of cleaning itself is only just gathering pace, probably because it is deemed menial, repetitive and low status - performed only as an aesthetic gesture.2 Yet staff who clean hospitals …

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