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Hohenstein strives to make hospital wear safer
Mar '13
The clothing worn by doctors and nursing staff plays an important role in breaking infection chains in healthcare systems. This has been shown in a study carried out in a hospital in Jerusalem (Israel) which examined the germ contamination of work clothing of 135 doctors and nursing staff. In about 60% of the samples potentially infectious germs were discovered including also antibiotic-resistant germs (MRSA) [Wiener-Well et al., Am J Infect Control, 2011].

Identifying and objectively assessing infection risks

This shows us the highly relevant role played by textiles as potential sources of infection in hospitals. Therefore at the Hohenstein Institute in Bönnigheim (Germany), a new type of germ transmission model has been developed which in a first stage tracks the transmission routes of micro-organisms in a public lavatory. Here scientists observed to what extent there was a spread of bacteria, fungi or viruses from one germ source via the hands of the test persons onto different objects in the room (e.g. lavatory brush, door handle, tap).

Then it was a question of determining to what extent these objects themselves then become a source of infection. The new germ transmission model was used to study for example how many micro organisms are spread from the lavatory brush to the door handle by the hand of a person and what germ dosage is spread further by the hand of the next person opening the door.

The practically-oriented study conducted by the researchers is the first to correlate paths of germ transmission to currently known infectious doses of bacteria, fungi and viruses. Although the number of viable germs decreased as expected with every transmission step from hands to objects in the lavatory, some pathogens were still spread to other test persons in infectious doses through contact with contaminated surfaces.

The new germ transmission model is currently being further developed by scientists at the Hohenstein Institute so that it can also be used for textiles in the healthcare system.

Optimum products for maximum hygiene

For the last few years in order to improve infection prevention, surgical gowns and staff apparel have been antimicrobially treated The effectiveness of such products is examined by specialists at the Hohenstein Institute with the help of standardised procedures based on practical applications. The investigation results of the last few years show that sometimes there are considerable differences in the effectiveness of antimicrobially active textile fibres.

In the procurement or rental of surgical gowns and staff apparel, it is therefore sensible for hygienists to demand independent test certificates. These should prove the antimicrobial effectiveness of the textile raw materials in relation to pathogens such as antibiotic-resistant germs (MRSA, VRE), Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Proteus spec. and Acinetobacter spec. This is the only way that indication-specific statements on the antibacterial effectiveness spectrum of staff apparel can be made.

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