Medical settings are hotbeds of potential infection. Multitudes of patients pass through hospitals and GP surgeries every single day – potentially carrying infectious diseases. Medical centers need to tackle infection control at an institutional level to prevent mass outbreaks of illness. The coronavirus pandemic has bought this issue back into the public eye. Here are some of the measures that hospitals and primary care centers are taking.
In the past, hospital wards were equipped with multi-use screens for patients to shelter behind during a stay. Today, that practice is being reversed. Disposable medical curtains are now the ideal standard in hospital settings. Disposable curtains are cheap, easy to set up, and just as easy to remove. They prevent the spread of infectious diseases via porous surfaces. The total adoption of disposable medical curtains did not occur until the height of the coronavirus pandemic – a pandemic that highlighted the importance of infection control within medical settings.
Disposable Furniture Covers
Hospital furniture is rightly seen as a big conduit for the spread of infectious diseases. With that in mind, many hospitals now attach single-use covers to all of their clinical furniture before each new patient is seen. Covers need to be cheap, non-porous, and easy to remove and apply.
Personal Protection Equipment is now mandatory in medical establishments. Staff that comes into contact with patients need to wear masks, scrubs, gloves, and occasionally protective goggles. Personal Protection Equipment is immensely important. Shortages in PPE are rightly considered a governmental failure. PPE shortages were highlighted in many countries at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. In the United Kingdom, public outrage centered around the failure of the NHS to provide PPE to all of its clinical staff.
Single Use Equipment
Single-use medical equipment is now standard. Suturing equipment, needles, scalpels, and just about any other type of metal medical equipment that comes into contact with a patient’s blood is typically single-use. Although steam sterilization of metal medical equipment is very effective, it is very time-consuming and is being phased out in favor of single-use items.
Most of this equipment cannot be recycled: it ends up being incinerated because of its potential to spread disease. Researchers are working hard to figure out how to manufacture environmentally friendly disposable equipment.
Alcohol Sanitizer Alcohol-based hand sanitizer will be very familiar to just about anybody reading this article, thanks to its widespread use in the coronavirus pandemic. It was in hospital settings that this substance first found fruitful employment. Alcohol has been in use as an antiseptic since the late 19th century. Actual hand sanitizer as we know it, however, was likely invented in Germany in the 1960s. Some historians credit a young American nurse by the name of Lupe Hernandez with inventing the formula. Regardless of who actually invented it, hand sanitizer has been in use in hospitals for around 60 years.