Putting health at the top of the agenda

17th August 2016
Joe Bush

Emma Segelov, Marketing Manager for MK Electric (a Honeywell company), explains the growing importance of specifying anti-bacterial devices in hospitals to prevent the growing risk of infection.

Despite measures taken by the Department of Health to raise the profile of healthcare associated infections (HCAIs) across all NHS trusts, the reality is that the number of deadly infections contracted whilst under hospital care are still disturbingly high. One need only to open the morning papers and be bombarded with headlines about the state of cleanliness in the UK healthcare system and the dangers involved in failing to understand the gravity of the problem in hand.

According to a recent report, nearly one in ten patients pick up an infection during their stay in hospital, and a staggering 5,000 die each year as a direct result. Research carried out in 2014 by the government into hospital contracted infections predicted that, if urgent action isn’t taken now to dramatically reduce the risks, ten million people could die every year by 2050 as a result of these resistant infections.

Methicillin-resistent staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), the most common hospital acquired bacterium, is believed to be responsible in many cases. In 2007, a Lancashire hospital’s baby unit, including its Neonatal Intensive Care ward, was shut down for over a month as a result of six babies contracting MRSA. The unit remained closed until hygiene standards had been notably improved.

More recently, a Dartford hospital with the highest rate and number of MRSA cases for NHS trusts in England failed its infection control inspection due to its downfalls in basic hygiene and lack of knowledge among staff of best practices in infection prevention. The hospital has since been placed under emergency conditions to improve its cleanliness after 14 new cases of MRSA in patients were reported in the past year alone.

Statistics from Public Health England (PHE) show that MRSA has the highest mortality rate out of all hospital contracted infections, with 98.9% of cases reported to the body in 2014/15 being linked to cause of death in patients. MRSA is known to be a resilient infection, and resists first-line treatment in many cases – making it even more imperative that the bacteria is prevented from growing in the first place.

However, it’s not just MRSA posing a threat in UK hospitals. In fact, in June 2016 a Birmingham hospital was forced to cancel 200 non-emergency operations while its air filtration system and operation theatres were being sanitised following a serious infection scare.

These are just a small sample of a number of recent incidences of HCAIs. As a result, the government has enhanced scrutiny on UK hospitals and other healthcare institutions to take greater strides to stop illnesses from spreading between patients. Although the majority of this obviously centres on a robust cleaning regime, the use of antibacterial electrical products also has a part to play.

Specifying antibacterial surfaces in a clinical environment can help prevent the growth of bacteria, killing these potential infections off at inception. Antibacterial sprays and treatments that are commonly used will wear off after only a small amount of time, however having these bacteria fighting properties built into surfaces and appliances can help to minimise the risk of the growth and spreading of these fatal infections.

With this in mind, clearly the importance of specifying anti-bacterial devices has never been greater. However, not all products are the same. It is now crucial that those working in the healthcare arena take a diligent approach when specifying electrical accessories, and get to grips with the benefits that each product can offer their environment.

In terms of wiring accessories, MK’s Logic Plus range is produced using urea formaldehyde; a high grade thermoset material that has similar inherent properties to antimicrobial additives, which inhibits the growth of infectious diseases such as MRSA, E. coli, salmonella and Klebsiella pneumoniae. In this way, with the anti-bacterial property being inherent in the actual compound of the product, Logic Plus is incredibly effective at killing dangerous bacteria. An independent laboratory test MK Electric previously ran shows a kill rate of 99.9% against MRSA and a kill rate of 98.9% against Klebsiella pneumoniae.

Logic Plus also has the added benefit of being scratch-free, thanks to high quality mould tools, meaning there are no dirt traps for the bacteria to spread – another way of optimising precautionary levels. The range has also been designed with a soft curved edge and a chamfered top edge, which helps to prevent dust and dirt collection and avoid harbouring bacteria.

These same benefits extend across the whole, comprehensive range, including socket outlets, multimedia plates, 3-pole fan isolators and connection units.

For a complete antibacterial solution, MK Electric's Prestige 3D Antibac Blue has been specifically designed to complement Logic Plus, helping to kill bacteria, which can grow on surfaces such as trunking systems. It uses a silver-based additive inherent within the PVCu, which acts as an effective weapon in eradicating the bacteria, rather than just restricting its growth.

Again, as the additive is homogenous with the PVCu compound, the protection runs throughout. In this way, there is no loss of effectiveness where the trunking lengths are cut on-site or if the surface becomes scuffed or scratched. The result, as verified by a separate independent test, is a 99.9% kill rate on both MRSA and Klebsiella pneumoniae.

Testament to the pedigree of product, the Prestige 3D Antibac Blue was installed at Glasgow Royal Infirmary in its recent refurbishment, having stood out to the specification team for the complete protection it offers against both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. In this way, it ensures effective defence against the spread of infection across the hospital.

Using a combination of all antibacterial products available to you will really help to raise safety standards in a clinical environment, maximising the changes of minimising infection.

As both trunking and wiring devices are open to human contact, the risk of infection spread is greater and must be controlled. By taking advantage of the latest solutions specifiers can ensure a total antibacterial solution; optimising safety and peace of mind for their customers while helping to raise standards for the greater good.

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