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Infection control issues in the clinical area

In the US, the Centre of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that healthcare associated Infections cause or contribute to 99,000 deaths each year.

In Europe it is documented to be 25,000 deaths per year.

This equates to 339 deaths every day, 14 deaths an hour or 1 death every 5 minutes across the US and Europe as a direct result of healthcare associated infections.

Infection Prevention and Control (IP&C) is a priority for anyone working in the healthcare service. Whether in an acute hospital or a community health organisation, all are striving to ensure they follow best practice and protect patients and staff from the spread of infection.

In clinical areas where carts, beds, stretchers and furniture move from patient bed space to patient bed space or clinical area to clinical area, there is a risk of cross contamination.

We know that gram-negative micro-organisms can survive for a long time on surfaces in the hospital and can enter the body through wounds, catheters and ventilators. This in combination with the lowered immune system in many hospitalised patients makes cross infection a never ending risk.

Products which are touched by many “hands” run the risk of inadvertently spreading infection, and recent studies showed healthcare workers’ compliance with hand hygiene is statistically significantly lower after contact with environmental surfaces (such as furniture, beds, carts etc.) compared with contact between patients: increasing the risk of possible cross contamination.

Some key considerations therefore in any product design are to have easy to clean surfaces, ease of access and visibility of all areas to be cleaned; there should be no areas to harbour micro-organisms and there should be additional protection options for high risk areas.