Top 5 Ways To Prevent the Spread of Viruses in Hospitals

Updated on March 9, 2023

Hospitals are where sick people go to receive treatment and to feel better. Yet, hospitals are also a common source of transmission for some of the most prevalent viruses, including RSV, COVID-19, and the flu. Hospital staff and administrators have a duty to put strategies in place to prevent the spread of viruses. Here are some of the best ways to prevent the transmission of viruses in hospitals.

Enforcing Personal Protection Equipment

Personal protection equipment (PPE), including masks and gloves, is especially important in preventing the spread of viruses in hospitals. Requiring staff and visitors to wear masks protects ill patients and reduces the likeliness of transmission between asymptomatic people. It’s also important to note that while gloves can help stop the spread of viruses, they shouldn’t be a replacement for hand-washing. 

Providing staff with ample PPE equipment increases the chance that they’ll use them properly and replace them between patients. Using medical-quality aprons and gowns can also stop transmission by preventing pathogens from soiling clothing and scrubs. Medical providers who work with patients where they’re exposed to bodily fluids should change aprons and gloves between each patient.

Protocols for Highly Transmissible Viruses


Image via Flickr by Presidencia de la Republica Mexicana

Some viruses are extremely contagious, including RSV and COVID-19, making prevention techniques like frequent hand washing and deep cleaning less reliable. In these cases, hospitals may set up specific protocols on how to handle patients with highly transmissible viruses. For example, some hospital rooms with positive and negative pressure machines can reduce transmission through the air. Proper PPE should be available to all staff working with these patients. The appropriate signage should also be available to alert staff and visitors of the riskier environment.

However, for the best results, protocols to stop highly transmissible viruses also need to include the ability to recognize and separate patients displaying symptoms quickly. Some viruses can rapidly spread throughout a hospital or medical facility if patients are left in the waiting room for too long.

Frequent Hand-washing

Frequent hand-washing is one of the best ways to stop the spread of viruses. Germs can live on a person’s hands for several hours or days. Patients, staff, and visitors who carry pathogens can easily spread viruses to others through high-touch points like door handles, faucets, light switches, and remotes.

In addition to requiring frequent hand-washing in hospital settings, it can also be helpful for hospitals and medical facilities to make this important task easier. Setting up hand sanitizing stations between patient rooms increases the frequency with which staff properly clean and disinfect hands between tasks. Following World Health Organization (WHO) hand-washing guidelines can also stop the spread of viruses. The WHO recommends medical providers wash their hands before touching a patient, before performing a procedure, after a procedure, after touching a patient, and after touching anything in a client’s environment.

Deep Cleaning and Sanitizing Surfaces

Deep cleaning and sanitizing surfaces throughout the hospital is also crucial in stopping the spread of viruses. All patient rooms should be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized before admitting new patients. Many pathogens may be present in a hospital setting, meaning a one-size-fits-all cleaning strategy won’t work. The best way to get rid of pathogens is to choose hospital-grade cleaning products specifically designed to remove them.

The use of advanced cleaning practices can also help remove pathogens. UV sterilization works by penetrating and removing pathogens and can be a great way to disinfect the air. Deep cleaning and sanitizing also include the sterile processing of surgical and medical equipment and food serving equipment. The same thorough cleaning protocols used in patient waiting areas and rooms should extend to other hospital departments, including the kitchen.

Clean Airflow

Thorough cleaning of all high-touch surfaces and patient rooms does little if hospital staff doesn’t put strategies in place to filter airflow. Viruses easily spread through the air between patient rooms. Some viruses can even stay in the air for days, infecting all new patients, staff, and visitors who also enter that room even after the patient has left. 

HEPA air filters are a great way to filter out air contaminants. Air pressure machines can also help promote clean airflow in rooms of patients with highly transmissible viruses. Some hospitals have even begun using UV sterilization in heating and cooling systems to purify and disinfect air for a cleaner environment.

These strategies can help hospitals prevent the spread of common viruses. Prioritizing PPE use, deep hospital cleaning, advanced sanitization protocols, and cleaner airflow can help protect both patients and staff. This provides a cleaner and healthier environment for everyone who frequents the hospital.

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.