Dr Andrew Kemp, PhD, group CEO at Q Technologies Group provides an insight into how technological innovations are being used to help us re-think the role that surfaces and skin play in primary and cross infection.
In the 21st century it is difficult to think of many areas of science, where we use technologies that are over 100 years old to test new technologies for efficacy. Culture media and techniques have remained almost unchanged in all that time. The same can be said for the chemicals that we use to kill bacteria on skin and surfaces. As a scientist, I have to wonder why these have remained unchallenged in an age of constant technical improvements in almost every other area of healthcare. The increasing availability of polymerases chain reaction (PCR) testing to help identify species has increased the speed at which we can now make decisions over many aspects of the care of our patients. However, its use to determine levels of bio burden on surfaces is limited to say the least. As a global society, we have spent trillions of dollars on infection control and prevention, mostly on the “cure” rather than the “prevention” side of the equation.
We have researched the use of air handling systems, producing prescribed filtration methods, air pressures and numbers of air changes per hour. We use many different materials in our healthcare facilities, using metals such as silver and copper to create an environment that is hostile to bacteria, yet still we have a significant number of healthcare acquired infections to deal with.
Surfaces for the most part have been ignored as a significant area of research as testing has generally shown only potential links to primary infections and cross infection. In fact, there is no current healthcare technical memorandum for surface cleaning, with little guidance of any value being offered in respect to testing for surface contamination; leaving little in respect to choice and frequency of use of chemicals to clean and disinfect our healthcare facilities.