Infection Prevention and Containment Conference 2016- Discussion

A large percentage of Architects, designers and Construction specialists are not properly considering the prevention and causes of Health Care associated Infections (HCAI’s) when designing buildings and specifying finishes, fittings and furniture for use within modern healthcare facilities. There are a wide variety of antimicrobial products available to us as designers and builders which have naturally inherent bacteria fighting properties such as copper, silver, zinc, lead, gold and aluminium among others. There are specialist flooring and fabric products available which have been designed specifically for use in the healthcare environment which claim to actively inhibit the growth and spread of infections such as CDifficile, MRSA and Norovirus and are easy and robust enough for rigorous and regular cleaning. Inventive products such as tap and shower fittings with quick release mechanisms to allow thorough disinfecting on a regular basis can be specified and would enable IPC staff to more easily and efficiently sterilise patient areas as routine process. If the deep clean of an item is easy to do the more regularly this will happen, perhaps weekly rather than six monthly for example. A standard tap fitting may only be removed yearly for a thorough deep clean however a quick release tap could be cleaned by standard cleaning staff without the need for a specialist contractor. Furniture and fittings can be considered to have fewer crevices, details and small spaces which can harbour dirt and bacteria’s and should be produced from easily cleanable/wipeable materials and have anti-bacterial properties. The problems that designers face with getting the ‘IPC in the built environment’ message across is vast and this message can only be useful if senior trust managers, healthcare professionals and major contractors alike can appreciate and understand the long term benefits and life cycle cost savings and insist upon their use. Government approved IPC product accreditation would be beneficial and could provide evidence based results to back product claims, without impartial tests and approvals; designers are fighting an uphill battle with the specification of products which will usually carry a cost premium. Until healthcare design teams can be convinced of the benefits of considering infection control and prevention as a first priority and more importantly the inevitable higher price tag of those, as designers we will struggle with pushing the products through to fruition. In the interim, health care facilities will struggle with the onslaught of HCAI’s and the lack of new antibiotic drugs to fight them.

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