Monthly Archives: August 2018

Ah, but no superbug survives hydrogen peroxide

Woman boxer
No way any germs are coming back from treatment like this, ma’am

The writing is on the wall, folks. In letters larger than life.

Two alarm bell happenings this week underline it.

The return to UK of a British Army nurse who contracted Ebola on the mercy mission in Sierra Leone and her admission to the Royal Free Hospital.

And the latest “Antibiotic Apocalypse” update that mutating bacteria are making our medicines useless – a potentially greater threat than Ebola.

Chief Medic warning

This warning comes from no less than Professor Dame Sally Davies herself – Chief Medical Officer for England – that we need to up our game in hygiene, or risk killing ourselves by carelessness.

Actually, Dame Sally’s main thrust is for drug companies to get back into research developing new antibiotics – a new super-class to take on the superbugs.

No new antibiotic has hit the market since 1987. And it’s unlikely to. There’s more money to be made manufacturing pills that patients need to take several times a day for the rest of their life – than meeting the cost of a drug that may only be used in emergencies.

Which spotlights the scary elephant in the room – that medicines don’t work anymore.

Hence, says Dame Sally, we need to rediscover hygiene.

“Half of men don’t wash their hands when they go to the lavatory – which takes the bugs from the bum, or the prick, to the tap – to the door handle – and then out potentially to food and friends. We have to take this seriously.”

Washing hands saves lives

Yes, washing hands is again the issue. Because prevention is better than cure.

So is washing and disinfecting everything that gets used in hospitals – beds, instruments, equipment, furniture, everything.

And did we mention the walls, ceiling and floor?

That too – even the airspace that fills most of any hospital room – which never gets cleaned because you can’t hand-wipe empty nothing.

Truth is – like antibiotics themselves – wipe cleaning is no longer up to the job.

If we’re going to rediscover hygiene, we’ve got to take on those killer bugs everywhere we can. Which means not just out in the open – but underneath, behind and on top of things – plus the cracks and crevices in between.

That sexy coil of wire for the blood pressure machine? It gets handled 20 times a day and what is it cleaned with? Formaldehyde is banned as a carcinogen, bleach attacks the plastic insulation – and anyway, to wipe that cable after every use would pull its soldered ends apart in weeks.

Sterilising technology

OK, how about UV? There’s this American company jumping up and down about the UV robots it has supplied to Sierra Leone which zaps germs in minutes, sterilising everything including Ebola.

It’s a nifty machine and a real step forward (something like this). No viruses, no bacteria – pretty well sterile. But it’s not too good getting underneath, behind or on top of things, because you can’t bend light rays. You need to keep shifting it around to be effective.

So? Fog the place up with hydrogen peroxide. It attacks germs by oxidising them, job done. Like no virus or bacteria survives being ripped apart by oxygen atoms tearing through it.

Especially if you go the whole hog.

All germs – gone

Don’t just spray the stuff in the air – ionise it in a Hypersteriliser, so it disperses faster, finer than water droplets, almost like a plasma. So it actively reaches out and grabs pathogens on the fly, destroying them in mid-air.

So it’s electrostatically attracted deep into cracks and crevices, where hand wipes cannot reach.

So it sterilises the air, where most germs normally are. You’ve seen grains of dust fly around – every bug in the universe is microscopically smaller than that – so don’t let anyone tell you that germs aren’t airborne all the time.

So it’s dry and in a mild concentration, that doesn’t attack surfaces or harm electrical connections – plugs, sockets, keyboards and stuff.

So it decomposes into nothing afterwards, just water and oxygen.

Oh yes, and boost it with colloidal silver while you’re doing all this – so it performs three times better. So that an ultra thin residue of silver is left on all surfaces afterwards, an antibacterial barrier for ongoing protection.

Is that rediscovering enough?

Available now

You can destroy all pathogens right now, just by pressing a button – in as little as forty minutes, depending on room size. (Tweet this)

And it makes the place sterile to a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 6 –that is, 99.9999% germ-free. Safe, sterile and secure.

It won’t stop superbugs having a go at you if they get inside your body.

But sure as heck, it will prevent them getting to you in the first place.

Originally posted 2015-03-13 12:26:30.

If the Doc can’t talk English, go to the vet

Worried vet
Without English, how can you hope to explain your symptoms?

Grumpy, uncommunicative, or plain non capisco?

It took Dr Kate Granger’s now famous social media campaign to get doctors and nurses just to say “Hello, my name is…

Sure, hospital staff are busy and rushed off their feet, but doesn’t there always have to be time to make a human connection?

Not a sausage factory

A patient is a real person, not a lump of meat.

Or – to open up the latest can of worms – doesn’t the Doc speak English?

A kind of basic issue that.

Like, is the Doc qualified in the first place?

Because even if a doctor is totally brilliant, if the only language of communication is Italian, Bengali or Finnish, how can anyone be expected to do the job properly?

Basic people skills

Yes, employing foreign medics might be a way to solve our current tsunami of hospital cases – but not if they don’t understand the patient.

And it’s not just introducing their name and saying “how do you do?”, like Kate Granger is asking.

Talking to your doctor is so crucial, we’re right to be worried if there’s no understanding.

It’s such a huge issue that credit card giant American Express is running a TV commercial worldwide about finding “a doctor who speaks your language.”

Crucial is right.

Understanding symptoms

You’re the patient, the only person in the whole world who can isolate what’s wrong with you.

It might be a painful gasp, “I feel crook,” and a clutch at your ribs. But at least the Doc has something to go on.

Because from there, it’s possible to ask questions. To help narrow down whatever is necessary to make a diagnosis.

Without English, there’s not even that.

Which is why you would be better off at the vet.

In the hands of a professional who is trained around not being able to communicate.

Observation and experience

Because animals can’t talk or make gestures. They can only feel ill, like you do.

And a vet has a better idea of what to look for when words aren’t available. Can interpret grunts, whines and squeaks more accurately than listening to Swahili.

Which makes sharing language and talking to patients much more of a key issue than politicians and whoever those admin people are might imagine.

More than just for courtesy and making patients feel welcome too.

Confidence and wellbeing are both qualities a good doctor can instil.

A few quiet, well-chosen words from a recognised authority figure work better than any medicine – saving time, money, heartache and worry.

Common sense

It’s plain common sense, anyway.

If you were to go and live in a Martian society, you’d get nowhere unless you spoke Martian. Unless you meshed with their society, understood their needs and recognised what motivated them.

Which is exactly what a doctor needs to engage with patients in Britain.
It doesn’t have to be perfect English – it can even have a heavy accent.

Without it though, things can go horribly wrong.

It’s enough of a challenge fighting viruses and bacteria – without struggling with words as well. (Tweet this)

Your extremely life could lean on it.

Originally posted 2015-03-12 13:16:17.

Ebola won’t kill us, let’s rather do that ourselves

Infection fear
It’s ourselves we should worry about, we’re more dangerous than any germ

Here’s a harsh reality check for you.

If you die of Ebola, it’ll be your own doing.

You know it’s a deadly disease, you put yourself in the line of fire. The consequences are entirely yours.

Deliberate suicide

So what do they call that, self-inflicted death?

Suicide, right? You’ve committed suicide.

And it wasn’t Ebola that did it, it was you. By your own volition.

Ebola just does, what Ebola does. And exposing yourself to it goes one way. You knew that, before you started, but you did it anyway.

Makes you think about those volunteers who are out there fighting the disease, right? Médecins Sans Frontières , our own NHS people, British armed forces – and the selfless folk from a whole stack of other countries, doing their humanitarian best.

Heroes every one of them. Because they risk suicide to do what they do.

They know they could die. But they do what they do for the sake of others.

How careless can we be?

Not like the rest of us.

Every day we take stupid chances. We know they’re stupid, yet we take them anyway.

We’re not actually thinking suicide at the time, we’re just being lazy.

But those are the stakes, we’re playing with our lives. And we do it through sloppy hygiene.

Want an example? Look no further than a handshake. Not the how of it, the contempt of it.

“New research has revealed that just 38 per cent of men and 60 per cent of women wash their hands after visiting the lavatory.”

Disgusting, yes. But more than that, seriously stupid.

Because every single one of us knows the importance of washing hands after going to the loo. We know what happens if we don’t – that we could make ourselves seriously ill. We know it could put us in hospital.

We even know we could die from it.

Yet we carry on anyway, not thinking for a second that we just risked suicide.

Exactly the same as painting a target on your chest and walking onto a shooting range. Seriously, utterly stupid.

Unnecessary risk

Because you don’t see the Ebola mercy-workers taking chances like that – and they KNOW the chance they’re taking.

They’re ready with the meticulous scrub-up, the personal protective equipment donned under the watchful eye of a trained clinical observer: scrubs, overalls, apron, boots, double gloves, medical mask, respirator, goggles, surgical cap.

Then the UV tunnel, the chemical checks, everything. A whole careful code to be followed in scrupulous detail.

And still they can be unlucky. One unguarded moment, one second of diverted attention – and a needle-stick changes their lives.

Yet how many of us stare at the mirror in the loo – check the hair, the face, the way our clothes sit – and walk out without touching a tap?

A deliberate needle-stick moment, right there.

It was you!

Yes, deliberate.

Pleading forgetful is just making excuses. We’re just too lazy and we know it.

So how many of us actually do walk out of the loo – to come down with some medical nasty? Norovirus, diphtheria, MRSA, take your pick.

We don’t go looking for Ebola. But we sure as hell got what we deserve. (Tweet this)

Or worse, pass it on to somebody else by shaking hands, handing out coffee and biscuits, or simply handling the office phone.

Sloppy hygiene. Ugh.

So why aren’t more of us dead?

Originally posted 2015-03-06 11:28:50.

Is that a virus waiting for you in the waiting room?

Bored waiting
Yep, it’s a virus –
and it’s got your name on it

Fancy place the local Doc has got.

Done up all nice in this old Edwardian house.

Six of them in partnership, some on-the-ball practice managers to run it –  even a dispensary, right there on the prem.

Impressive.

Too bad about the waiting rooms though.

Germs in waiting

Ten minutes in the one, and everybody gets norovirus. Walk into the other, and the sneeze hits in seconds.

Not really as bad as that, of course.

But that’s how it seems.

And if you think about it, why are you surprised?

A bunch of people all sitting, waiting – not all with aches and pains.

There’s the splutters and tummy cramps too.

Ten minutes, twenty. How long does it take?

Household hygiene, not good enough

Staring at each other in rows round the walls of this one-time ex-dining room. Carpet on the floor, drapes at the windows, radiator under the window – and that’s your lot.

Easy once-over with the Dyson when they close at 5.00. Wap, wap, with the dustcloth, job done. Exactly like public offices and waiting rooms all up and down the country.

Except there’s still stuff floating in the air. Swirling round when people come in. Settling and swirling, coming down on that old fireplace where they keep the NHS brochures. Attaching to the walls.

A grab-bag of common-or-garden cooking viruses, the usual suspects.

Rhinovirus, because it’s that time of the year. Norovirus, because the posh people in this practice do cruise ships and this year it’s Cancun with those exotic cantinas and the hot enchiladas.

You’re going to get it

A walk-in germ-factory, in other words. And a shock for the Docs that people think so.

But totally inevitable.

And totally fixable.

Because it’s the simplest thing in the world to wheel in a Hypersteriliser after the Dyson. (Tweet this)

Hit the button, shut the door, and 40 minutes later the place is sterile.

Both waiting rooms done before going home for tea.

No viruses, no bacteria – a germ threshold at total zero.

Stop a few coughs and tummy runs, that. Save the Docs time and ease up on dispensary staff too. What’s not to like?

Easy-peasy

All for around a tenner a pop – and the patients wind up among the healthiest in the country.

Worth a bob or two in goodwill, hey?

Can we book you in for next week?

Originally posted 2015-03-05 12:55:02.

Why normal sterilising is just not good enough

Woman doctor in mask
Safe isn’t safe
until it’s 100% sterile

However you look at it, the job is a schlep.

Seems any sterilising effort needs stinky chemicals that give you a headache and strips away paint if you’re not careful.

Bleach, formaldehyde, peracetic acid – don’t think for a second that any of that stuff is good for you.

Not nice, however you do it

Either that or it’s heat so hot, you can’t stand it.

Or messing around with ultra violet light and exposing yourself to whatever.

Or worst of the lot, you’re playing around with some noxious gas that does your head in with the slightest whiff.

On top of which, you’ve usually got to scrub like crazy before you get anywhere. Then wash the whole lot off afterwards.

Strictly for the birds.

Like ordinary washing, but nastier.

Still basically manual wipe.

Which means how hard you scrub, and for how long, also comes into it.

Plus, how can you be sure you haven’t missed a bit?

And how about all the surfaces you can’t normally reach? Like underneath things? Or behind? Or on top? And all those wires and tubes for the equipment you use? Computer cables, screens, keyboards, phones?

Get liquid in any of them and BGRZAPF! Things stop working.

And what about the air? All that room space around you?

Less than perfect, the job’s not done

So whatever you try, 80% of the germs around you don’t even get touched.

And those bugs are sneaky – just about nothing stops them.

Like the Streptococcus mitis bacterium we came across in yesterday’s blog. Coming back to life after two and a half years on the moon – surviving launch, space vacuum, radiation exposure, deep-freeze at 20 degrees above absolute zero, with no nutrient, water or energy source.

Miss one of those things with your squidging sponge and you’re right back where you started.

OK, so technology can help a bit.

Like, bung everything in an autoclave – if you can find one that’s big enough. Fine for instruments, but a bit difficult with a whole room full of stuff.

Ultra violet

Then there’s an American company which has this robot thingy that zaps out ultra violet light. Kills all germs dead in minutes, job done.

Well yes, but we have a similar machine and it only works for line of sight. Any obstruction that the light rays can’t get to the back of remains untreated. And the dose gets weaker, the further you are from the machine.

A good idea, but you’ve got to work at it. Move it around a lot so the light rays get everywhere. Like we said, those bugs are sneaky.

All right, how about gas? It gets into the air, spreads around behind things, surely that’s the answer.

Ozone

Things don’t get much more potent than ozone, a kind of super-oxygen that kills all viruses and bacteria stone-cold dead – the same stuff that high up in the atmosphere protects the Earth from the sun’s deadly radiation.

Uh, huh. But to be effective, its concentration level can be very hazardous. Mild doses are fine for taking out smells and getting rid of mould. But even then, the place has to be evacuated and you’ve got to vent it out thoroughly before it’s safe to use the room.

Vaporised wetness

Sticking with airborne ideas, fogging up the place is another method that is often tried – usually with hydrogen peroxide, a powerful oxidiser, just like ozone – but a lot more people-friendly.

Water-based, the problem is getting the stuff to disperse efficiently. The vapour is heavier than air and takes time to reach everywhere. It’s also wet and needs to be dried off after treatment. Drip, drip into electrical connections, also a hassle. And again, the concentration level necessary makes it hazardous to work with.

How, how, how, to get rid of all the difficulties?

Ionised efficiency

Check out the Hypersteriliser machine. Round the world, hospitals, clinics and care centres are beginning to hike sterilising hygiene to a whole new level with it.

Yes, it uses hydrogen peroxide – but ionised, so it’s finer than air and spreads better – electrically charged so it actively reaches out and grabs viruses and bacteria on the fly.

It’s also boosted with colloidal silver. And remember? Way back before antibiotics, it was silver compounds that were the first choice in dealing with infections.

In fact silver sulfadiazine cream was the standard antibacterial treatment for serious burns until well into the 1990s.

Better still, silver’s antibacterial properties get dramatically enhanced by an electrical field – exactly what happens to it in the nozzle of the Hypersteriliser.

So it’s not just hydrogen peroxide misting out – it’s a Twenty-First Century germ-killer that takes sterilising a whole quantum leap into vastly more effective protection. (Tweet this)

There’s no schlep either. Just press a button and it works itself.

A bit better than a sponge and bleach – but stick around. We’ll always need spot sterilising as a failsafe.

Originally posted 2015-03-04 13:25:47.

Smitten by aliens from outer space

Spacewoman
Space, the final frontier: to boldly go where no germs can ever get you

It’s an affliction we’ve suffered from for nearly fifty years.

And enjoyed every second. Charmed and intrigued by an alien space being – that inscrutable and totally logical Vulcan known as Doctor Spock.

Boldly gone

Sadly, the charismatic Leonard Nimoy who played Spock in the 1960s TV series Star Trek, has passed on.

It is the end of a legend.

But our fascination and often dread for things alien is a lasting legacy – and the spirit of Spock will live on for aeons to come.

“Is there life out there?” is a question we already seem to have answered ourselves.

Out of which comes our continuing paranoia – “What if it comes here?”

It’s not just in sci-fi that it receives such focus.

Real eggheads in research centres all over the world worry about it in sci-fact too.

When the original Star Trek took to the airwaves  in 1966, space travel was still just throwing rockets up and watching them go round and round.

Three years later came Apollo 11 and two men walked on the moon.

Infection from space

Alien exposure!

What dangers did they risk? What contamination did they face?

And most paranoid of all, what extra-terrestrial hazards did they bring back?

They walked the moon’s surface, moon dust was on their clothing. The moon’s electro-magnetic influence infused their being.

More to the point, out of the six Apollo moon landings between 1969 and 1972, 2,415 samples of rock from the moon – almost a third of a ton – came back too.

And what defence do we have from possible alien life forms? (Tweet this) Embryo creatures trapped in lunar basalt, or deadly viruses set to take over our planet?

It is a recurring headache for scientists everywhere – how to avoid contamination of space with Earth-originated organisms.

And the other way around. How to prevent our own contamination.

Kinda difficult now that some 300,000 pieces of space junk larger than 1 cm are estimated to be in orbit up to 1,200 miles out – detritus from rocket stages, old satellites and other broken bits of nothing.

Science hoo-hah?

Not a bit of it.

Earth contamination

After the Apollo 12 mission, the camera from a previous Surveyor 3 probe was brought back to Earth and found to have Streptococcus mitis alive on its casing –  attributed by NASA to its not being sterilised on Earth prior to launch, two and a half years previously.

A technician sneezed on it.

NASA’s watchdog against any repeat is its Office of Planetary Protection, which applies muscle to measure, control and reduce spacecraft microbial contamination by law.

Sterilising spacecraft is difficult, given their construction from sensitive materials and the many fragile electronics systems involved. Repeated exposure to ultra violet light covers many stages of preparation, so does bombarding with gamma rays.

But Earth’s microbes have already proved themselves able to withstand extremes of temperature, radiation exposure, and even survive being in a vacuum.

Outer space? Been there, done that.

Currently, two methods are accepted for sterilising spacecraft – cooking with dry heat up to 233 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 hours – or exposure to hydrogen peroxide.

The hydrogen peroxide route is under close scrutiny – favoured for its effectiveness in eliminating all viruses and bacteria – but questioned for the moisture it introduces when deployed as a vapour, a major advantage over manual wipe methods.

Sterilising that works

That could be about to change – and remember, you read about it right here, first.

Already deployed throughout hospitals and public buildings is an automatic Hypersteriliser that ionises hydrogen peroxide into a dry mist that substantially outperforms the vapour method.

Ionising in the spray nozzle causes the hydrogen peroxide molecules  to become charged, dispersing widely and quickly as their like charges repel each other, forcing them apart.

The same charge attracts them to any surfaces or airborne particles, actively grabbing at viruses and bacteria which they destroy by thrusting oxygen atoms at them. In as little as an hour, any enclosed space and its contents becomes clinically sterile.

Good to know we have that kind of protection. Especially as we are still smitten.

As we learned from the movie Alien – in space, no one can hear you scream.

Originally posted 2015-03-03 13:15:25.

If nobody’s smoking, why are you coughing?

Cigarette woman
Passive germs are just as deadly as passive smoke

Cough, splutter, choke.

No doubt about it. You’ve got someone’s second-hand germs.

Well nobody smokes at work, right?

And nobody smokes at home. You haven’t been near a pub or bar – and nobody you know even thinks about it.

Non-smoker’s cough

So how else have you got this smoker’s-type cough that makes you feel so lousy?

Wakey, wakey.

It’s not just cigarette smoke that hangs in the air. And it’s not just stale tobacco that pongs up the place.

Germs can’t read that “No Smoking” sign – but if they could, they’d be laughing.

Because there’s billions and billions of germs all around us, all the time. Oh yes, there are, don’t kid yourself.

But we don’t think of them, do we? Out of sight, out of mind.

Invisible in the air

You can’t see cigarette smoke either, after the first few seconds. And yes, it’s deadly too – but those other germs you can’t see can bring on sickness and misery ten times worse.

Ten times worse than lung cancer?

Take your pick of cholera, typhoid, Ebola, malaria, yellow fever, or whatever.

Or just plain norovirus if you’re lucky – Delhi belly or equivalent. A few days and you’re over it.

But why are you still taking chances?

So far, you’ve escaped the ills of smoking – the cancer, the asthma, the COPD.

No smoke around you – and people respect the law.

But where’s the sign that says “No Germs”? “No Viruses”. “No Bacteria.” “Pathogens will be prosecuted?”

No wonder people go off sick – none of us are doing anything about it.

It is an offence to spread germs in these premises

We’ve gone all legal and outlawed smoke from enclosed spaces, but we’re still doing nothing about the rest.

Look no further than your own office space. How many of you are working in there -20? 30?

And how’s your office hygiene coping with the germs they bring in every day – on their clothes, on their shoes – carried in with their tummies, or breathed out from puffing up the stairs?

No, that nightly go-round with the vacuum cleaner, emptying the waste bins and quick wipe-down of all the desks isn’t going to crack it. In fact germs thrive on moist surfaces, so they quite possibly multiply.

Hazardous? You bet.

Try Googling it.

Average Desk Harbors 400 Times More Bacteria Than Average Toilet Seat.

Office workers are exposed to more germs from their phones and keyboards than toilet seats, scientists reveal.

Might as well call in sick before you start – you’re going to get it, whether you like it or not.

Well no, because our immune systems are accustomed to this kind of abuse. It’s only when we’re down that things happen to us. We over-work, over-eat,  have an accident, or get depressed.

The second the body goes out of balance, those germs are in there like a flash.

But of course, that’s if your office isn’t booby-trapped already. Sick building syndrome, legionnaire’s disease – they’re both demonstrations of environmental germs at work.

Boom! That’s you gone.

But only if you let it.

Seeing the light

Companies are starting to wise up to lifting hygiene levels at work. And, gasp, even some government departments.

The place gets cleaned every night – and then blitzed with a Hypersteriliser. One hour of exposure to hydrogen peroxide and the germ threshold drops to zero. (Tweet this)

There you go, germs gone, nary an infection anywhere.

No viruses or bacteria of any kind until the staff rock up tomorrow morning. Then they’re back in force, of course – on their clothes, on their shoes, you get the picture.

But at least the desks are sterile and safe to use. The place is neutral. Nothing lingers in the air or the heating system. The coffee machine and biscuit cupboard are free of all hazards – unless you scald yourself on a latte.

So if you’re going to catch a bug, at least it won’t be off your desk or the photocopier. Except Jones from Accounts had better watch herself, coughing all over everyone like that.

Needs a few days off, poor dear. Passive germs are active in the Underground.

Originally posted 2015-03-02 12:22:51.

Why we only get the NHS we deserve

Angry Doctor
Do they ever treat you
like most of us treat them?

Indifference, sloppy procedure, rudeness, improper behaviour.

If that’s the treatment you got every day, how would you feel?

Because, look around when you next walk into an NHS hospital.

Enter, the super-rude

Right across A&E, General Outpatients, X-Ray and all the other clinics, you’ll see the same.

Members of the public treating staff like dirt. Not the other way around.

It may not be abuse or threatening behaviour. But it’s often the nearest thing to it. The pot calling the kettle black.

People acting like hooligans – and that’s just in the reception areas.

Walk to your appointment and you can’t escape it. Because even listening with half an ear, behind closed doors it’s worse.

Swearing, insults, they’re all par for the course.

Death of respect

And – surprise, surprise – it’s not usually your yobs or chavvy mums on the case.

It’s the potty-mouthed posh and jumped-up big deals. Looking like they own the place and don’t want it. “I’ve been waiting here thirty minutes, when will you people start doing your jobs?”

Respect?

It died years ago, if it ever existed.

Every day, staff face a never-ending tide of rude, unpleasant and downright selfish behaviour from people who never consider that others might be important too.

Or even that someone else’s life-threatening condition might be slightly more important than their own twisted ankle – caught in a doorway because they weren’t looking where they were going.

The forgotten magic word

Now ask yourself, is it any wonder when staff get bad-mouthed all the time, that full-service attention is sometimes allowed to slip? Especially at the lower end of the scale, where jobs are often drudges and the only way is up?

Though the public may not believe it, staff are people too. And if your life is nothing but bedpans and cleaning toilets, that extra five minutes on your tea-break can be the only thing that keeps you sane.

Think hard as you walk through the corridors. When was the last time you heard the magic word?

In this world, “Please” and “Thank You” are swearing of the worst kind. (Tweet this)

What the heck, they’re only NHS – they’ll never understand. If you really want attention, best to stand in the middle of the place and yell “Shop!”

OK, there are exceptions. In an organisation of 1.3 million people like the NHS, they’re inevitable. Here and there don’t-care individuals that the tabloids haven’t exposed yet.

But against these embarrassments, most of NHS staff are themselves exceptional.

Because doing this job ain’t the same as your nine-to-five marketing board game.

Dead, or dedication

It takes seven years to become a doctor. Five or six to become a nurse.

Then you’ve got your internship and a whole run of other hurdles before you’re allowed to fly. Not forgetting of course that you have to keep updating yourself to stay qualified.

On top of that, the hours are long, breaks are short or non-existent, you may even forget to know what sleep is all about.

And yet some of them – the more super-dedicated and professional – actually volunteer for more. Hundreds applied to work in Africa fighting Ebola, one of the most dangerous and deadly diseases in the world.

So what have they done to deserve rudeness and four-letter words from their own countrymen who they’re only trying to help?

Looks like minding some P’s and Q’s might be in order.

Complain about the NHS, we’ve brought it on ourselves.

So why aren’t we pleased with it?

Originally posted 2015-02-23 11:48:38.

The difference between clean and safe

Mum and baby hands
Most of the time, clean just isn’t enough

Chores done. Spic and span.

And the floor looks so good you could eat your breakfast off it.

Really?

Prepared to risk a tummy ache for it?

Beyond appearances

For all you know, that floor could be covered in germs. And how would you know? They’re so small you need a microscope to see them.

OK, soap and water does get rid of a lot of stuff . Dirt certainly, you can see that.

And yes, probably a whole stack of germs.

By making that floor – or anything else – clean, you have basically “sanitised” it.

If before you started there were a million germs to a square inch – harmful pathogens, viruses or bacteria – you have now pulled them down to 100,000, a reduction of 90%.

Assuming of course, that you have cleaned thoroughly – not just slopped with a mop and stopped for a coffee.

Personal hygiene

It’s the same with your hands.

A proper clean with soap and water for at least thirty seconds – or with alcohol gel if there’s no facilities – will get rid of 90% of germs.

Medics and science boffins call this a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 1. If you scrub for five minutes or so, like operating staff do, you get rid of 99% – a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 2.

But there’s a catch. All bacteria have the power to divide and multiply. One cell becomes two, two become four, four become sixteen – etcetera.

And since 10% of them are left, they’ll be at it immediately.

Warm, moist conditions accelerate this. So if whatever you’ve just cleaned isn’t dry, those germs will be racing to replace themselves. That 10% of germs can double in 20 minutes. In less than two hours, they could be back to full strength.

And germs like flu viruses can survive on your skin for 24 hours. Other bacteria can survive for weeks. (Tweet this)

Makes you think twice about the towel you use, doesn’t it? If it’s still damp – and it’s likely to be – the next person who comes along is going to pick up whatever you left. That’s why air blade dryers are so much safer – your hands get dry without leaving anything behind.

Thank goodness.

Because out of all the millions and millions of bacteria that might be around (there always are), it only takes 10 cells of something nasty like e.coli to make you very sick indeed.

This means war

So how about if you deliberately set out to kill germs? Use a disinfectant like Domestos or Dettol?

Depending on the strength and preparation of the stuff you’re using, you’ll reduce germ levels – the number of colony forming units of viruses or bacteria – by anything from 99.9% to 99.999%. That’s a Sterility Assurance Level from Log 3 to Log 5. (Just count the number of 9s).

Pretty good, but not really serious if infection is a problem – like when everyone’s come down with norovirus, or flu is spreading like wildfire.

Going the whole hog is to sterilise everything. To destroy all viruses and bacteria completely. Reduce those million germs you started with down to nothing – all non-pathogenic and pathogenic spores, fungi and viruses.

The science boys shake their heads at that, since it’s not always provable. The best they’re prepared to accept is reducing the million down to one, or 99.9999%. This puts us at a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 6.

Making safe

Safe enough?

For sure. And it’s achievable in as little as twenty minutes by misting up the room with ionised hydrogen peroxide.

Ionising makes hydrogen peroxide particles become supercharged – acting far more powerfully than they would otherwise. They kill on contact without needing to saturate the atmosphere. The dry mist reaches everywhere, sterilising the air as well as all surfaces.

Well you don’t get flu by sniffing the table, do you?

And ionised hydrogen peroxide can be used pretty well anywhere in an enclosed space. You just roll in the electronic robot unit – it’s about the size of a small wheelie-bin – close all the doors and windows, hit the button and leave.

Result, a sterilised room with a germ threshold of zero. Your kid’s classroom, your office, your hotel room – anywhere you might be a risk.

Washed your hands?

You’re off to a good start.

Originally posted 2015-02-13 13:20:48.

How to take the heat off super-busy hospitals

Girl magician casting spell
Germ-nasteous Disappearium! Hydrogen peroxide zaps all pathogens immediately

We’re not all ill. There is no epidemic.

Yet every one of our hospitals is jammed packed with people anxiously seeking attention.

How come?

Hospital overload

Anyone would think we’re a bunch of fraidy-cat hypochondriacs.

Maybe we are.

But the people crowded into waiting rooms up and down the country are mostly there because there’s no place else to go.

  • Their GP won’t see them, he’s closed after-hours and they can’t get an appointment.
  • The 111 service can’t sort out the problem, so it’s referred them to A&E.
  • Their pharmacy is concerned about symptoms and has done the same thing.

Which puts a whole bunch of people in a queue, all waiting for one thing.

Diagnosis.

Well actually, for somebody to tell them what’s wrong, with a suggestion of how to fix it.

“Take two aspirin and call me in the morning.”

And because they’re ordinary non-medical folk, half of them are convinced their condition is more serious than it is. There’s no family Doc with “There, there, it’s all right. Take two aspirin and call me in the morning”.

All they know is, they don’t feel well.

Which of course, can be caused by a whole slew of things.

But unless it’s an accident or an underlying condition, it’s probably germs.

Germs!

Somehow, they’ve come down with a bug.

Which nine times out of ten, should never have happened in the first place.

Sloppy hygiene. Hands not washed. Gunge from the underside of the sink.

Or just plain unlucky – a nasty stomach-heaving bug floating around at head height in the living room – which wafted in on the coat of the vicar who dropped in for tea , two days ago.

But bugs can be stopped.

DEAD. IN. THEIR. TRACKS.

Because it’s possible to sterilise every room in the country to hospital operating-room levels – no germs at all, anywhere. (Tweet this) Finished. Gone. A total germ desert.

And that’s germs in the air, germs on your clothes, germs on furniture, drapes, carpets, walls, ceilings, light fittings, everywhere – you name it. Total room sterility.

The only place germs can’t get clobbered is outside in the big outdoors. Or inside somebody who’s already got them. So if Hooray Harriet sneezes all over you, chances are you’re going to come down with it.

But not if you walk into a room where the germ threshold is zero.

And that can be any room in the house, your office, the restaurant in the High Street, and the council offices round the corner.

Safe as houses

How’s it done?

Good old Nineteenth Century hydrogen peroxide. The same stuff you can buy in the chemist for less than a quid a bottle. Grandma used it for disinfecting stuff and sterilising her teeth.

Maybe even put some of it on you when you grazed your knee – fizzing round the edges while it KILLED THE GERMS.

Yes, but this is hydrogen peroxide with a difference. Souped up with Twenty-First Century technology.

A nifty electronic machine about the size of a small wheelie-bin sprays an ultra-fine IONISED mist of it up into the air so it spreads everywhere throughout the room.

All the air space – under, over, behind and round the back of stuff – all surfaces, everywhere.

Good ol’ aitch-two-oh-two

Ionised means it’s active. It reaches out and grabs things – drawn to them by static charge. But harmless once it’s done its work.

Twenty minutes later, all germs are destroyed. Because hydrogen peroxide works by ripping them to pieces with oxygen atoms. Blown apart in millions of microscopic explosions.

All viruses, all bacteria. Even the dreaded Ebola, in the unlikely event that you’ve got it lurking.

And they can’t come back if they’re busted to bits.

Which is how we take the heat off hospitals.

We just don’t go there, because there’s no need.

We’re too busy being healthy.

As long as everywhere is treated with this stuff, we’re all OK.

We wish.

Because it takes a long time for us to learn.

Look how long it took before double glazing and central heating took centre-stage in our homes.

Ah well. But we do know some folks who are working on it.

Originally posted 2015-02-12 14:11:42.