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hdm magazine digital edition - November 2017

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News - November 2017

Maximising infection control in healthcare equipment

Maximising infection control in healthcare equipment

With budget cut after budget cut coming from the Government, and increased life expectancy; hospital workers are under tremendous pressure to provide excellent care while preventing the spread of infection.

However, we can combat this problem with a simple solution; design.

It is up to patient care equipment manufacturers to ensure that what we are providing is good for not only the purpose it was designed for, but also for minimising the spread of bacteria.

Specialist materials

A Design Council case study from 2008 found that levels of cross infection dropped when equipment had been specifically designed and manufactured to be easy to clean.

With this in mind, we need to step forward and ensure our equipment is created with the practicalities of infection control in mind.

There are a few ways to do this.

Using specialised antimicrobial materials in healthcare equipment is now a must. This will help to prevent bacteria from festering on things like mattresses and chairs, and therefore reduce the risk of equipment carrying infectious micro-organisms.

Bedbound patients will be more at risk of developing infections as their immune system may have weakened significantly and it is easier for bacteria to grow in a foam mattress.

Some pressure care mattresses feature waterproof interliners, which completely seal off the foam for infection control and cleanliness.

Minimising risk

The equipment we provide should also minimise areas where bacteria can grow.

Traditionally-sewn seams are a great spot for infections to harbour. The stitches themselves, and the holes they create in the fabric, are ideal for bacteria because they are incredibly difficult to clean.

This is precisely why we suggest using ultrasonic-welded seams.

From hospital gowns to mattress covers, welded seams provide a strong bond between different materials to ensure they are attached just as strongly as they would be with traditional stitching. However, sonic welding leaves no holes in the fabric and uses no stitching, making it all the more difficult for equipment to become contaminated.

Ceiling hoist tracking might also be something to think about in terms of infection control.

If these are not cleaned on a regular basis, they can get particularly dusty and dirty.

Yet innovative design has overcome this problem as well.

Inset tracking is installed into the ceiling itself, leaving no room for bacteria and infections to settle on a suspended rail. This significantly reduces the risk of contamination, and it does not need cleaning as often.

There is also the option to use high-pressure laminate (HPL) in hidden hoist systems, making them a much easier to clean and a lot subtler than standard hoists.

Splashing out

Tiled hydrotherapy pools can also be a magnet for micro-organisms.

Infections can take hold of the grouted gaps between tiles, which are difficult and expensive to clean.

The solution to this is to change what the pool is made from.

Stainless steel is a robust, easily-cleaned material that boasts excellent strength and sterility.

Built using mechanical anchorages and cold welding, these pools have no perforations, which successfully reduces the chance of any degradation or micro-organism growth.

Not only is it cheaper to build, install, and maintain; but it also makes the pool look incredible.

We see the prominence of infection control everyday within the healthcare sector, and taking steps to ensure good hygiene levels will help to save money in the long-term and provide a better standard of care for patients.

While we continue our endeavours to make patient care equipment as user-friendly as possible; we will also take measures to make sure it does not pose a threat in the efforts to combat infection and contamination.

From mattresses cover and linings through to hoist tracking and hydrotherapy pools; the solutions are there for the taking.

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