News archive - November 2017
It won’t wash!
Estates and facilities managers need to understand ‘the big picture’ when it comes to infection control in hospitals toilets and washroom facilities.
This is the view of Jeff Williams, brassware and fittings product manager at Armitage Shanks, who warned that a more joined-up approach to prevention and control was needed in key areas, especially vulnerable hospital environments.
“The infection control environment is constantly changing and only by understanding this ‘big picture’ is it possible to design effective methods for preventing the spread of pathogens,” he told hdm.
“One of the most-important messages from the science of infection control is that there is no single solution for all hospital washrooms – the risks can only be minimised when products work well together.
“A rigorous approach to all aspects of the products selected is therefore needed, so our advice is to take time to study the details of the products you consider installing in your washrooms. Likewise, take care to ensure that all regulations are complied with via your selection.”
A breeding ground
Key, he said, was to choose products that help with the main problem areas, such as deadlegs in water systems, which can be an ideal breeding ground for water-borne bugs such as Legionella and Pseudomonas; and those that minimise splashing, with splashes having been measured up to 2m away from the basin, potentially falling on beds, clothing and hospital equipment – and therefore spreading infection.
He added: “Without appropriate design and technology features, water systems within hospital washrooms can be an ideal breeding ground and transmission medium for potentially-harmful bacteria.”
Armitage Shanks is helping to address the problem through the design of new washroom fixtures and fittings.
For example, its Markwik 21+ range creates a new healthcare standard for taps and mixers, with a range of innovative features from autoclave-ready spouts to built-in thermal cleansing features.
These make the disinfection and sterilisation of washroom products easier by allowing for autoclaving, the minimisation of dead legs, complete dismantling, intelligent cleaning, and the use of a hydro-purge system.
Its Contour 21+ range also specifically targets splashing, reducing the risk by up to 90%, as well as helping to reduce waterpooling and the build-up of stagnant water.
“I would advise hospitals to choose a reputable supplier with a reputation for investment in innovation and a proven track record in hospital environments,” said Williams
“It’s also advisable to work with other experts who can provide insight in all aspects of the washroom design, including layout, material use, location within the building and more.”
A hot topic
Chris Tranter, product manager at Bristan, added that a Water Safety Plan should be developed at every trust that will identify potential microbiological hazards, consider practical aspects, and detail appropriate control measures.
Advising on combating the risk of Legionella and Pseudomonas, he said: “The primary method of control is the use of hot water.
“However, this entails another very-serious safety consideration in itself; hot water temperature control as every year 20 people die and almost 600 are seriously injured from scalds caused from hot water.”
To address this knock-on effect from bug-busting designs, he advises using the very-latest thermostatic mixing valves anywhere where hot water is delivered.
“TMVs allow water to be stored and distributed at a high-enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria, but they reduce it to a safe temperature at the point of use by mixing it with the cold water supply,” he said.
Flushing equipment through on a regular basis is also vital to prevent stagnation and to kill any remaining bacteria.
“Unfortunately, for the typical UK hospital, this additional maintenance, in terms of labour and cost, has posed an issue,” Tranter said.
“Add to the equation the fact that most traditional product set-ups require a complete de-installation in order for the installer to access the supply point, and the recommended maintenance flush seems near impossible.
“However, by specifying fittings which are quick and easy to flush, this issue can be avoided.”
Bristan has recently launched the H64 tap with incorporated TMV 3 control, which has been specifically designed to provide the ultimate washroom solution for medical environments.
Washroom controls manufacturer, Cistermiser, has unveiled the LinkThru temperature monitoring platform, which automatically checks the water temperature and flow events in pipework systems every five seconds with the results accessed via a user-friendly portal.
This real-time data supports water monitoring and provides alerts to high-risk water temperatures, which can be a critical indicator of the potential for growth of water-borne bacterium such as Pseudomonas and Legionella.
The platform was developed over two years following extensive consultation with maintenance and engineering personnel and has been trialled in major hospitals in London and Birmingham.
It saves estates personnel having to record readings manually at multiple locations, instead relaying the results to the Cloud, from where they can be accessed via the portal on the user’s computer, tablet or smartphone.
And CONTI+ Washroom Solutions has brought out a range of new technologies that are having a positive impact on infection control and servicing.
“Taps, showers and urinals can all be set up to automatically provide a system of water control automation,” said UK development manager, Paul Musgrove.
“This helps to improve audits on products to ensure regular flushing, hygiene thermal flushing and temperature measurement, which can all be logged and controlled remotely.
“This has the advantage of saving thousands of man hours as well as ensuring efficient infection control.”
Offering advice to estates managers, he added: “It’s about choosing the correct design for the environment.
“Good practice on design, product selection, and water management is essential, yet must also respect users of the facility.”