84INNOVATION UKINNOVATION Healthcare MEDITROX/ STERITROX LTD UK infection- control professionals are constantly strug-gling to meet the day- to- day demands that modern hospital environments present. With ever- increasing pressure to improve overall hygiene levels, reduce cross- infection levels, and maintain patient and staff safety while working to strict budgets, the brief is not an easy one. To be successful, infection- control management need to deploy integrated strategies that protect patients and the hospital environment alike. In typical hospital environments, the infection- control community has relied heavily on well- applied surface decontamination as a first line of defence against cross-infection. Though cheap and effective where they are applied, they leave many important areas untouched as potential infection hotspots. In addition, this strategy relies on the diligence of the cleaning staff on a regular basis to ensure effectiveness, something that cannot be easily controlled. As a result, the infection- control community has started to explore the possibilities of deploying a decontamina-tion strategy that tackles the whole environment with a degree of automation. Whole room decontamination ( WRD) has a number of advantages in that all the surfaces in a target room are treated ( bed, walls, ceiling etc) ensuring no infection hotspots are missed. In addition, the air in the target area is also treated, ensuring that any air- borne pathogens are also destroyed. This is typically very useful when attempting to combat airborne pathogens such as Norovirus and influenza. Early WRD systems have typically been reserved for emer-gency situations where infection outbreaks need to be brought under control. Though effective, the approach is typically time consuming (> 120 minutes per applica-tion) and needs sophisticated human supervision to ensure that the process is safely deployed. This is time and resource that overloaded infection- control teams cannot afford. In the past few months, a new generation of routine WRD systems have just started to be evaluated by thought leaders in the infection- control community. Routine WRD works on the assumption that rooms get treated regularly to ensure that there is never an environmental build- up of the pathogens to facilitate a cross infection. Latest strategies for effective infection control in hospital environments by Mark Hamilton, Business Unit Director of Meditrox LEFT: Mark Hamilton RIGHT: Meditrox 47
UKINNOVATION UK85 Healthcare MEDITROX/ STERITROX LTD To be adopted, these new systems need to be fast, effective, and extremely easy to operate and deploy. In summary, the unrelenting pressure on the infection-control community is starting to drive a more integrated approach to hospital infection control which takes into account both the patient and the hospital environment. Specifically, environmental decontamination needs to be integrated into the operating needs of the hospital, its staff and the patient. Routine whole room decontamination ( WRD) is about to become the latest strategic weapon in the fight to reduce hospital- acquired infections in UK hospitals. Mark Hamilton is currently Business Unit Director of Meditrox Ltd. Mark holds a First Class Hons in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, and has over 20 years' experience in bringing new innovative technologies to market. Meditrox is an innovative UK technology company which specialises in environmental decontamination within medical markets.