Making investments in the right staff uniforms can help hospitals to reduce the risk of hospital acquired infection (HAI) on wards; this problem is one that can take many forms, and can range from MRSA bugs through to clostridium difficile and blood infections – according to studies, the mortality rate from uniform related infections in developed countries can be as much as 5 to 10 per cent. Risks primarily coming from unhygienic scrubs and other equipment that comes into contact with patients.
Reducing the impact of uniform contamination should, then, be a priority for hospitals, and can be achieved by focusing on the general hygiene of uniforms and their general suitability for regular cleaning; this covers routine scrubs and footwear, as well as specialist, protective items such as plastic aprons and full body gowns. The latter items have been linked into recurring problems with hospital contamination, and particularly for situations where blood and other fluids become difficult to avoid and clean.
The Royal College of Nursing in the UK recommends that staff and hospitals stick as close as possible to the recommendations made within regulations on nursing and hospital uniforms; these include directives from the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974, and the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations of 1992, and involve strict rules over hand hygiene and uniforms being able to be washed and laundered as many times as is practically possible during a working week.
Some general rules for making uniforms more resistant to spreading infection include avoiding lycra or polyester in the manufacturing of scrubs and other items; similarly, pockets should be designed to limit folds and reservoirs being formed for trapping liquid and bacteria; staff should also be careful to wash their hands with antibacterial soap, and to be particularly careful when cleaning on and around rings and jewellery.
To further reduce the risk of infection, hospital scrubs and uniforms should be thoroughly rinsed and washed during the week, with hand washing to be avoided; aprons and surgical gowns can also be disposed of following exposure to blood and fluids, while gloves can similarly be removed in order to avoid any accidental infection. Some hospitals will offer staff laundry facilities, although tax incentives and breaks are available for hospital workers for washing and maintaining their uniforms.
The same rules also apply to hospital footwear, which can be a source of infection if germs are transferred from laces and shoes onto hands and other parts of the body. The best footwear for cutting down on infection involves non slip soles, enclosed toes, and rubber materials that enable straightforward washing and drying. Waterproof soles are also ideal for shoes that are routinely exposed to fluids during work. By combining hygienic footwear with properly washed and maintained uniforms, HAI can consequently be fought within hospitals.
Author Bio: S. James blogs about health and safety in the workplace, and is particularly interested in the health industry. She recommends that hospitals and other clinical settings check out the medical uniforms at Matrix Uniforms.