Wiping out the enemy
This year sees the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. By the end of that conflict it was regarded as the ‘war to end all wars’, but just over 20 years later the Second World War was imminent.
Despite best efforts, enemies that were once thought vanquished can return and old battles have to be fought again. But there are other battles that we may need to engage in that are not against each other. Conflicts go on daily and the need to triumph and to avoid casualties is equally vital, particularly when the ‘war’ is against the dangerous enemies of infection and contamination.
The Department of Health HTM 01-05 (www.gov.uk, 2013) on Decontamination in primary care dental practices offers guidance on best practice, pointing out: ‘Patients deserve to be treated in a safe and clean environment with consistent standards of care every time they receive treatment. It is essential that the risk of person-to-person transmission of infections be minimised as much as possible.’
Standard 1.5 of the GDC Standards for the Dental Team (www.gdc-uk.org, 2014) similarly requires that patients must be treated in an ‘hygienic and safe environment’, which includes adhering to legislation and regulations etc relating to decontamination.
Keeping the environment hygienic and safe is a priority, highlighted by the incidence of infections such as Norovirus and MRSA in hospitals. One potential aid in the battle against infection and contamination are surface wipes. Single-use wipes can be convenient, easily accessible and quick to use, but in succumbing to their benefits it is important to also be fully conversant with their proper use in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions.
There has been interesting research conducted into the role of wiping surfaces for decontamination purposes. In a review in 2013 (Sattar and Maillard) it was pointed out that when wiping, the pressure used, type and frequency of the action can all materially affect the decontamination outcome. The type of wipe affected the success of the wiping action while its size, degree of absorbency, thickness, composition and more, influenced how the disinfectant was retained and released. Further, the more soil and the larger the surface being wiped, the more the effect of the disinfectant in a wipe is diminished.
Following on from this, a further assessment was carried out using wipes on a contaminated medical device (Gold and Hitchins, 2013). In that assessment six commercial wipes were evaluated resulting in the conclusion that ‘active ingredient, wipe design and wipe wetness are important factors to consider when selecting a disinfectant cleaning wipe. Additionally, achieving conditions that effectively clean, disinfect and/or inactivate surface bacterial contamination is critical to preventing the spread of health care associated infections.’
The assessment also noted that ‘medical devices have become an increasingly common source of health care associated infections.’
Wipes are available in different forms, some containing just a disinfectant, while others contain a combination of disinfectant and detergent. The Royal College of Nursing in its guidance on the selection and use of disinfectant wipes (www.rcn.org.uk, 2014) points out that disinfectant wipes without detergent ‘will have only limited cleaning properties, due to the friction created during cleaning’ necessitating cleaning properly before use. In addition to detergent and disinfectant, wipes may also contain other ingredients such as alcohol. However, ‘if there is obvious blood contamination, the presence of protein will compromise the efficacy of alcohol-based wipes’ (www.gov.uk, 2008). Another important consideration in the use of wipes is compatibility with surfaces. HTM 01-05 (www.gov.uk, 2013) points out that the advice of the manufacturers should be obtained regarding the ‘compatibility of detergents and disinfectants with the surface materials used’ and this was further highlighted in a 2013 MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) Medical Device Alert (www.mhra.gov.uk, 2013).
Wipes can offer both convenience and timesaving benefits, subject to adherence to the manufacturers’ instruction. One company that offers wipes impregnated with both a cleaning and disinfecting solution plus ethanol, for the treatment of medical devices between two patients, is Eschmann. Its Essential single-use wipes have microbiological properties active against HIV-1 after one minute and HBV after 15 minutes. Rinsing is not required and the wipe application must be left to act according to the required antimicrobial activity. Striving for both quality and economy, Eschmann Essential surface wipes are ready to use in a re-sealable tub, with refills available.
Infection control and decontamination are at the forefront of the battle against infection. Overcoming them can impact on individuals and on the environment, and effective products used responsibly can make a big difference. Churchill once said: ‘You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.’ Standing up to the enemies of infection and contamination is an essential and vital part of good practice, protecting and safeguarding both professionals and patients.
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For your free Essential wipes sample or for more information about Eschmann and its comprehensive range of high performance cleaning and disinfection consumables please call 01903 875 787 or visit www.eschmann-essential.co.uk.