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News archive - July 2018
Calling attention to infection risk
“For many years, the primary focus for nurse call manufacturers when designing new products would be the electronics and circuit boards, with the enclosure somewhat of an afterthought.
“Consequently, units would quite often be bulky and not really designed for easy cleaning.”
But, continues Phil Wade, marketing director at Static Systems Group (SSG), by the early 1990s this was beginning to change; with the introduction of the first waterproof nurse call handsets.
“Since then, infection control has remained at the forefront of all our new product design briefs, usually starting before any electronic development,” he adds.
And it’s not just patient handsets that are designed with infection control in mind - associated equipment and bedhead services trunking are increasingly coming under the spotlight, too.
“We address design challenges such as minimising the infection control risk associated with fixings, eliminating gaps, and ensuring that any corners are smooth and rounded,” said Wade.
The use of new design and production techniques is key to this design process.
Wade explains: “As a manufacturer we employ 3D modelling technology to look at how parts go together in early design stages.
“We have also recently invested in 3D printing to produce prototype models of designs, allowing us to test the suitability of different component parts and their fit together - the aim being to eliminate gaps and joints where bacteria can collect.
“By using clips and plastic parts such as snap-in escutcheons and cover trims we can also reduce the use of screw fixings and can cover holes to provide a smooth clean surface for easy cleaning.”
In addition, antimicrobial additives are being incorporated into nurse call handset materials in order to increase their bug-busting qualities.
Wade said: “Since 2005, we have used antimicrobial technology. This is particularly useful for patient handsets and is incorporated into powder coat finishes and plastic components that are likely to be touched.”
SSG has recently announced a partnership with Biomaster which will see its Addmaster antimicrobial technology incorporated into all touchable parts of SSG nurse call hand units to provide round-the-clock product protection from harmful bacteria such as MRSA and E.coli.
It works by inhibiting the growth of bacteria, thus reducing the likelihood of it spreading throughout the environment.
Making an impact
Medicare Systems designs its call points with the addition of Microban within the labels and an antimicrobial additive is added to the plastic at manufacture to increase the impact on infection prevention and control.
“Infection Control is a paramount factor within the hospital environment and all nurse call equipment should be designed and manufactured with this in mind,” said a company spokesman.
“Pear push leads are also be manufactured with both these additives and need to be designed so they can be dipped into cleaning solutions that are normally used within the hospital environment to clean surfaces. This will help eliminate the spread of any infection.”
And Courtney-Thorne’s Altra Health system has been developed so that all parts that come into contact with users are manufactured from easy-clean, waterproof, antibacterial materials.
The company has also focused its R&D on other parts of the system - namely the trailing leads running from wall-mounted alarm points to the handheld devices.
Its Altra-Link bed and floor sensors no longer need to be physically wired to the bedhead unit. Instead, using wireless connectivity, devices are paired with the bedhead unit and can communicate directly with it.
Dave Hewitt, the company’s sales and marketing manager, told hdm: “There is now no need for trailing wires collecting dirt off the floor and causing serious tripping hazards for both nursing staff or patients.
“Indeed, since Courtney-Thorne first introduced the health and care sectors to wireless nurse call solutions many years ago, it has become far easier to physically clean the bedside call buttons.
“Simply unclipping the unit from its wall mount and then cleaning it before clipping it back again make any wired solution a most-impractical proposition for modern cleaning.”
He added: “It should be expected that all manufacturers of hardware used within the hospital environment ensure they use antibacterial surfaces and produce systems that are easy to clean.
“However, reducing the need for cleaning by decreasing the quantity and frequency of touch points is where a smart nurse call solution will always win over.”
Wade concludes: “Infection control will undoubtedly remain a key consideration for any products found in healthcare settings, so manufacturers must continue to ensure it is given high priority on the design brief.”