Darrell Taylor, EMEA Key Account Manager, Microban® International, and Eddy Wimmers, CEO of Watts Footwear share the following with Hospital Hub…
In every healthcare setting, routine infection control protocols and best practices are encouraged at all times to protect both staff and patients from the microorganisms that cause infection. The COVID-19 pandemic has given hospitals the impetus to re-evaluate its standard infection control precautions, with more onus placed on using the correct personal protective equipment (PPE), thorough handwashing and regular cleaning of surfaces and uniforms; all with the aim of reducing infection transmission. It is thought that more than half of hospital acquired infections (HAIs) are entirely preventable with these active control programmes, however, HAIs still pose a great threat to healthcare institutions across Europe, prolonging hospital stays, requiring further therapeutic interventions and, in worst case scenarios, increasing the incidence of death. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) reported that the six most common types of HAIs – including urinary tract infections and pneumonia – result in 90,000 patient deaths every year in the EU, which is more than any single infectious disease under its surveillance, including HIV/AIDS.1
A uniform protection
Medical professionals and their uniforms can act as one of the most mobile vectors for disease in a facility. A study that looked at the uniforms of over 100 hospital staff found that up to 60 % were colonised with bacteria, including multi-drug resistant microorganisms.2 These materials can pick up all the microbes that the health worker might encounter throughout their shift, from either a contaminated surface or from airborne sources, including nasal and respiratory droplets. Laundering requirements also vary, sometimes changing fabrics, clothing and footwear only when there is a high perceived risk of infection, or if they are visibly soiled, which can allow the build-up of harmful – and invisible – microorganisms. In some countries, such as the UK, domestic laundering of scrubs and footwear is standard, which means staff taking these potentially pathogenic microbes home to wash. In addition, routine cleaning only offers limited residual activity once the uniform is washed, allowing bacterial populations to quickly rebound with a single contamination event and be carried throughout the healthcare setting. Replacing the washing and reusing of fabrics with one-wear disposable uniforms would help overcome this, however, it would contribute significantly to waste disposal requirements and go against the sustainability targets of hospitals, proving impractical. Treating uniforms, footwear and other apparel with built-in antimicrobial product protection is an complementary cleaning strategy that works alongside regular washing in the fight against microbial growth.
Built-in antimicrobial technology has the power to complement regular disinfection and laundry practices in hospitals for a synergistic approach to cleaning, giving peace of mind to staff, visitors and patients. The versatility of antimicrobial technology can go beyond apparel and can be applied to virtually every potential vector and reservoir of contamination, including high-touch surfaces, furnishings and equipment. However, product manufacturers and suppliers need to know that this technology can be seamlessly incorporated into a range of materials and chemistries without compromising on key product features, such as style, durability, price and desired finish. For footwear, this can mean ensuring the same fit, weight, comfort and minimised risk of slipping. In addition, as hospital equipment can come into contact with some of our most vulnerable citizens, we must guarantee – beyond doubt – that the chosen antimicrobial technology is safe, for production and use, with stringent testing and efficacy requirements.
Shoes that work as hard as you do
Microban, the global leader in antimicrobial additives, has partnered with Watts Footwear to develop a range of award-winning antimicrobial footwear specifically for use by healthcare workers. The Yacan and Yoan (pictured) range of medical clogs are anti-slip, anti-static and now antimicrobial, bringing comfort, convenience and cleanliness to those who are on their feet all day. Microban antimicrobial technology works continuously to prevent the growth of microbes on the surface of the shoes, proving efficacious against an array of pathogenic microorganisms, including Staphylococcus aureus. This 24/7 protection can not only help to minimise the risk of bacterial cross-contamination between surfaces, but also works to prevent the growth of bacteria that can cause product odours and material degradation, keeping shoes cleaner between cleans and extending their lifetime for sustainability. The embedded line of defence operates a multi-modal attack, targeting multiple cellular components and organisms at the same time, making it difficult for resistance to occur. In addition, Microban product protection is incorporated into the footwear during manufacture to become an integral part of the complete upper and sole material, never wearing away. Crucially, the built-in antimicrobial properties are not diminished by harsh cleaning chemicals or washing temperatures, so can underpin existing laundering and disinfection routines adopted in a range of healthcare settings. This technology has been added to high-touch surfaces, fabrics and various types of materials in hospitals, providing an additional level of cleanliness and added peace of mind where it matters most.
Cassini, A. et al. (2016), “Burden of Six Healthcare: Associated Infections on European Population Health: Estimating Incidence-Based Disability-Adjusted Life Years through a Population Prevalence-Based Modelling Study”, PLoS Med, 18, 13(10).
Wiener-Well, Y. et al. (2011), Nursing and physician attire as possible source of nosocomial infections. Am J Infect Control, 39(7), 555-559. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajic.2010.12.016
Due to regulatory differences, the information referenced in this article may not be valid in all countries or regions. In some cases, legal regulations may restrict or prohibit the selection of available Microban® technologies, the field of application for which they are approved, and/or the permissible marketing claims for treated articles. Microban technology is not designed to protect users or others against disease-causing microorganisms, and is not a substitute for normal cleaning practices.
About Microban International
Part of Barr Brands International (BBI), Microban International is a global specialist in antimicrobial, odour control, smart surface and disinfection technologies. Our proactive systems keep products cleaner, and control odours better by preventing problems before they start. Microban drives innovation by combining science and creative solutions that enhance high-quality consumer, textile, industrial and medical products around the world. Today the Microban brand and technologies are featured on thousands of products worldwide. The company is headquartered in North Carolina with operations in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. For more information, please visit www.microban.com.