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More Hospitals Using Integrated Pest Management to Reduce Pesticides

Poll reveals less than half follow specific protocols for chemical use

Pest control company Orkin, Inc. and Hospitals for a Healthy Environment (H2E) today announced that an increasing number of hospitals implement Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs in their facilities, according to the results of a poll of health care professionals.

As an environmentally friendly approach to pest management that helps reduce the reliance on pesticides, IPM programs are used in some form in nearly nine out of 10 hospitals (88 percent). Sixty percent of respondents noted that their facilities use IPM throughout the entire hospital.

The results indicate that IPM use has risen during the past six years. A 2001 study* by Health Care Without Harm noted that only 73 percent of hospitals surveyed implemented IPM programs.

“More and more hospitals are recognizing the importance of an IPM approach to manage pests and keep patients and staff safe at the same time,” said Laura Brannen, H2E executive director. “It’s very encouraging to see these numbers continue to rise.”

Despite the trend towards “greening” in hospitals, less than half (42 percent) follow specific, written protocols for when and where chemical pest control products should be used. An even smaller margin, 38 percent, responded that their facilities do not have a facility-approved list of pesticides that they adhere to when chemical treatments are required.

“Since hospitals are such sensitive environments, chemical applications must be taken very seriously,” said Orkin Technical Services Director Frank Meek. “A written protocol that includes a formal notification process for pesticide applications and an approved list of products are a must.”

Health care pest management programs respond to a variety of pest problems according to poll respondents. Ants, rodents and flies are the three main pests of concern in hospital environments, with 46 percent of respondents selecting ants as their facilities’ biggest challenge. Rodents and flies were reported as the principal threats by 34 and 26 percent of respondents, respectively. Cockroaches, birds, wasps and occasional invaders, such as beetles, also made the list.

The poll also revealed that nearly all hospitals (94 percent) employ the services of an outsourced pest management professional in some fashion. Seventy-two percent of facilities outsource their pest management efforts entirely.

To help hospitals execute IPM programs, Orkin and H2E published the “H2E 10-Step Guide to Implementing an Integrated Pest Management Program” in the fall of 2006. Co-authored by board-certified Orkin entomologists and H2E experts, the guide gives hospital staff a foundation in the basic concepts of IPM. The guide is available for free download at www.h2e-online.org under “A wealth of knowledge” and “Key Resources” on the website’s home page.

Poll Methodology
Perception data is based on the responses of 101 health care professionals to an online poll promoted via email to members of Hospitals for a Healthy Environment (H2E). For complete poll results, visit the IPM Poll Results Report.

*About Health Care Without Harm Study
In 2001, Health Care Without Harm fielded a survey to the 171 top U.S. hospital facilities designated by that year’s U.S. News and World Report. Data was collected from 22 responding hospitals. For complete survey findings, visit www.noharm.org/us and select “Pesticides” from the “Pesticides and Fragrances” menu to download the “Healthy Hospitals Report.”

About H2E
H2E (Hospitals for a Healthy Environment) is creating a national movement for environmental sustainability in health care. Jointly founded by the American Hospital Association, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Health Care Without Harm and the American Nurses Association, H2E is based on the vision of a healthy health care system that embraces safer building products, clean air, energy and water efficiency, safe working practices and a commitment to public health demonstrated through waste volume and toxicity reduction. To achieve this goal, H2E provides its more than 6000 health care facility Partners with education, tools and information about best environmental practices, to help improve operational efficiency, increase compliance and improve the health of their communities.