Infection Control standards in the Canadian hospitals are consistently progressing as we battle the new and complex super bugs being contracted globally.
There is still many things we do not know about these bugs but there are obvious things that we can do to avoid the spread. Stainless Steel has long since been known as the king of sterility but how well acquainted are we with the alternative options being used in the hospital today? Do we base purchasing decisions on price or function?
It is truly amazing how often I will see worn out wooden cabinets, tables and counters in sterile areas of the hospitals in Canada. It is a known fact that wood is porous, absorbent and nearly impossible to thoroughly disinfect. The MDR takes so many precautions to ensure the instruments are sterile but then it is placed on a wood table, in a wood cabinet or a corroded chrome mayo stand that cannot be cleaned or disinfected.
Recently, we have had a number of hospitals that are replacing all wood furnishings with Stainless Steel, citing accreditation standards have demanded the change.
Stainless Steel in non-porous, non-corroding and a long life material. Due to budget constraints and the high price of stainless steel, many are opting for the low cost laminates, chrome and painted steel solutions. In some cases this is okay but if sterility or disinfecting is required, it would invite disaster sooner or later. A painted steel product can chip, and will certainly corrode with medical cleaners over a relatively short span of time. A chrome item will peel and start corroding. The corrosion creates a porous environment for microbes to lurk and evade cleaning. Laminates are basically a plastic coated plywood. Once the seal is broken, the plywood works like a sponge and soaks up the good, bad and otherwise in a spot that the eye cannot see. Corrosion happens much faster with the accelerated cleaners used in hospitals today.
Purchasing stainless steel is pricey but is also the better long term solution. Stainless Steel will typically last 4-5 times longer than other materials and due to the rigidity of the material, will usually be a more solid product. It is difficult for the healthcare buyer at the purchasing stage to see the value difference because price is the elephant in the room. If patient safety comes before price, Stainless Steel will always be the choice.
Canada is ahead of many other Countries that are now following our lead in regards to reducing wood and other porous materials in the hospitals. It is something that Canadian's can be proud of and feel safe when visiting our hospitals.