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10 FAQs About Bed Bugs in Healthcare Facilities

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Bed bug management in healthcare environments is crucial to help maintain patient comfort and confidence in your facility. Pest management in healthcare facilities helps maintain hygiene standards and promotes a conducive atmosphere for patient recovery and wellbeing.

Have questions about bed bugs and how to help manage them? Read on for 10 frequently asked questions about bed bugs in healthcare environments:

  1. Where are bed bugs commonly found and how do they get into healthcare environments? In healthcare environments like hospitals and clinics, bed bugs can be found in the emergency room or in patient rooms after being brought in on the clothing or personal belongings of patients, visitors and staff. In healthcare environments like long-term care facilities, they can be found in resident rooms. These pests like to hide on or in soft furniture, mattresses, bed frames, cracks in the baseboards and closets or storage areas.

  2. What is the best way to treat a bed bug infestation in a healthcare environment, and how long is the treatment effective? Every healthcare environment is different, and treatment for a bed bug infestation can take certain forms depending on the level of the infestation, the type of healthcare facility and your facility’s needs. With that said, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating a bed bug infestation. Work with your pest management provider to determine the best treatment plan, which may include heat or conventional chemical options. The duration of the treatments depends on the products used, so be sure to consult with your pest management team about next steps.

  3. What are the steps to take to clean the room and soft goods before and after treatment? Before the treatment takes place, your pest management provider may request that you complete a few preparation steps ahead of the services you selected. This may include moving furniture, removing items mounted on walls, removing bed linens and more. After the treatment, you’ll need to restore the room’s furniture and items back to their original placement.

  4. How long should I wait to use a room after it has been treated? This will vary, depending on the treatment and services agreed upon with your pest management provider. It could be a matter of waiting for several hours or for several days, so it’s important that you consult with your provider on the appropriate time period.

  5. How do you prevent bed bug activity from spreading if you have to move patients? When treating one room, should you treat an adjoining room? Bed bugs usually hide on belongings and not people, so take extra caution in transporting your patients’ belongings such as purses or suitcases from one room to another.

    Once introduced, bed bugs are inclined to migrate. If there’s an infestation, which means all stages of the bed bug life cycle are present, we recommend that you work with your pest management provider to ensure an inspection take place in the rooms that share a common wall or are in the same hallway.

  6. Can hospitals and environmental services teams treat for bed bugs without the help of a pest management provider, especially if they use store-bought products like sprays and monitors? We highly recommend partnering with a pest management professional to help manage the infestation, rather than using DIY or store-bought methods that are not as effective. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating bed bugs, and it’s important to implement a customized plan developed by your pest management provider. Nearly all products that are purchased for use in a facility need to be applied by a licensed or certified pest management provider, in accordance with local laws.

  7. What are heat treatments, and how do they work? Will handheld steamers work if applied to soft goods? Heat treatments involve raising the ambient temperature of a room or the interior of a heat chamber to a specific temperature treat bed bugs in all life stages. Results differ by temperature — for example, bed bugs will not survive at specific high temperatures if exposed for one second, and at lower temperatures, they won’t survive if exposed for a longer time. The key is that if you’re comprehensively treating a room so that every area — even crevices and areas underneath furniture — are heated to the temperature set for the treatment. Talk with your provider to ensure the treatment is executed and temperatures are monitored appropriately.

  8. Does isopropyl alcohol kill all life stages of bed bugs? Do UV lights affect bed bugs? While isopropyl alcohol can theoretically affect bed bugs, it is not an effective treatment method. Spraying isopropyl alcohol on beds or other areas where bed bugs were spotted can pose a fire risk. There are products that professionals use that are alcohol-based, but they should never be applied by anyone who isn’t a licensed or certified pest management provider. For UV lights, there is no practical way for the UV light to reach all surfaces or areas where bed bugs are hiding.

  9. How do you handle situations involving patients who have a bed bug issue at home that continue to be introduced by family visitors? These are sensitive situations that you should handle on a case-by-case basis, but you should take as many precautions as you can. As a first step, place the patient’s personal belongings in a heat chamber designated to treat for bed bugs, if available, under the direction of a pest control professional, and then inspect the area where they were waiting or being seen both before and after their visit.

  10. How can employees protect themselves against bed bug activity in the healthcare environment where they work, whether in a facility or at a patient’s home? Recommendations for how employees can protect themselves will vary based on the healthcare environment. In a healthcare facility, it’s important to know that maternity and psychiatric wards are more likely have bed bugs since patients are staying overnight. In these areas, your employees should inspect for bed bug activity. If they do spot a bed bug, they should be cautious when arriving home at the end of the day, placing their clothes in the dryer at the highest setting as soon as they enter their home to kill any bed bugs that may have been on their personal clothing. For employees who are servicing these areas exclusively, they should have a change of clothing and shoes on hand at the hospital to avoid wearing any affected clothing when they arrive at home.

    For employees who work in patients’ homes, they should perform an inspection upon arrival and take increased precautions while working in the home. We recommend keeping bags, kits, chairs, etc. that they bring with them separate from the patients’ items. They should always try to remove clothes when they get home and place them in dryer at the highest setting right away to make sure bed bugs are killed.

When it comes to bed bug control at your healthcare facility, there’s no time to mess around. Patients, visitors and staff can bring bed bugs into your facility on bags, clothing and other personal items. If bed bugs are found around your facility, you can be sure Orkin shares your urgency and will bring expert knowledge of proven bed bug control techniques to help keep your patients safe. Download Orkin’s free Bed Bug Checklists for Healthcare Facilities to gain actionable, step-by-step guides to help healthcare professionals swiftly address bed bug infestations in their facility.

Learn more about our commercial bed bug services or schedule a free inspection today.

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