Should our hospitals work like crime scenes?

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Crime scene
The cops can teach us a thing or two about avoiding contamination

Calm down Doc, no-one’s casting nasturtiums.

Truth is, the cops have got something you could maybe use Big Time. Better control of overall hygiene. Stop HAIs dead in their tracks.

Because if you’ve ever watched news coverage of any crime scene investigation, you’ll notice the rozzers are paranoid about one thing – avoiding contamination.

Strict procedure

First thing they do is secure the area – like isolating a patient in quarantine. Nobody in, nobody out – unless properly authorised, signed for and logged. No unwanted outside influences.

Then the SOCO team arrive – Scene of Crime Officers in their bunny suits. Full body covering, face masks, gloves and booties.

Familiar territory?

You bet. Modern crime scenes lean heavily on microbiology – trace evidence, DNA and epithelials. To nail the bad guy, they can’t afford the cops’ own body substances corrupting the evidence.

Uh huh. Exactly like scrubbing and gowning up for surgery. Medics can’t afford to take chances with possible infection. Everything is clinically clean and sterile – anything that touches the patient has to be safe.

Slight difference though, isn’t there?

The cops are concerned their own presence can skew the results.

The biological “life” cloud

They’re better aware of the human biome – that the body is surrounded by billions of bacteria, trailing around like a cloud. That the skin gives off billions more bacteria, along with secretions and the constant sloughing off of dead skin cells.

Because of this sharp awareness, they can secure a conviction from the DNA of a single hair. And it’s already on the cards that just sampling the air of a crime scene may soon yield the identity of suspects entirely from biome traces left behind – long after the bad guy left the building.

Avoid contamination, nail the perp.

Not quite how it works in hospital though, is it?

Because there’s one element the patient on the operating table is not protected from.

Themselves.

The medics are all gowned and sterile, but the patient’s biome is all over the place – floating around the table and throughout the OR.

Blood pressure, check. Pulse, check. Respiration, check. Temperature, check. And what about a pre-op wash? Never mind the screening for MRSA or whatever – one incision and that patient could be self-infected, from normally dormant pathogens suddenly finding an entry into the body.

Something is a little skew about how we prep for hygiene.

Slightly oops

From personal experience of three operations in two hospitals – two hernias and a quad repair – patients themselves are not scrubbed and sterilised the way that doctors and nurses have to be.

Sure, they’re wearing a hospital gown and out cold under general anaesthetic, but they could have breezed in before that, straight off the street – no shower, no bath, not even a hand scrub – maybe even bypassing the hospital’s own sanitising gel stations.

And here it is, direct from the Nursing Times: “Patients should wash or shower using soap and water the evening before surgery.”

The evening before! How many billion billion germ opportunities could that be?

OK, so the op’s a success and the patient goes to the recovery ward. Lots of people with lowered resistance. Lots of incisions and holes for tubes, drips and cannulas.

So in come the relatives, also straight off the street. Ordinary street clothes, trailing outside biome plumes, frequently side-stepping the sanitising gel stations – not even using the one at the foot of the bed.

Yup, you’d better believe it. Even with Covid-19 around, only one in three visitors ever uses the things.

People with a dodgy hygiene record too. Rushed and forgetful like the rest of us, wanting to show care and concern – but often the biggest infection risk of all.

Why?

Sloppy hygiene

Not the way the cops would do it.

Prevent contamination, right?

Which, in The Force, would mean hand gel is obligatory – orders are orders. And containing biomes is paramount – everybody fully enclosed in bunny suits. Yes sir, no sir, three bags full, sir.

Even then, there’s still a major risk of HAIs.

Straight in off the street – it’s cold out there, central heating in here – patients in T-shorts with the bedcovers flung back.

You got it – nose sniffles. Inevitable.

Not cold or flu or anything – but for the first ten minutes, running like a tap. Both nostrils, high up – from the same place where staphylococcus bacteria normally reside passively, or their methicillin-resistant cousins, MRSA. Harmless enough unless something happens.

Harmless as in pat on the cheek or a handshake. Or simply just breathing out, more microbes to join the visiting biome. Potentially lethal if the germs run amok. 80 people die of MRSA every year.

Prevention before cure

At a crime scene, the cops put up a tent – to keep out prying eyes and stop the weather destroying the evidence. The sun to dry things out. The rain to wash them away. Footprints, bloodstains, tyre tracks.

In hospital there’s a Hypersteriliser – as long as staff aren’t too rushed and busy to use it. Every ward made sterile before occupancy by misting up the place with ionised hydrogen peroxide. All viruses and bacteria oxidised to nothing – zero germ threshold. Zero contamination.

Maybe hospitals are already more like crime scenes than we think.

In which case, nice one Doc.

See? Nobody having a go, everybody all on the same side. Just like the cops.

Except those chancers who will not gel their hands.

Well, only one way to deal with them.

“Hey you. You’re nicked!”

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Back Off, Bacteria! is the blog of Hyper Hygiene Ltd, supplier of what we’re convinced is the most effective health protection system in the world. A fully mobile, all-automatic Hypersteriliser machine mists up workplaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide, spreading everywhere and eliminating all bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Hypersteriliser units are supplied to businesses and institutions across the UK, notably the haematology and other critical units at Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester; Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital; South Warwickshire Hospital; Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital; and Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.

The Halo Hypersteriliser system achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. It is the only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. It is also EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.

Originally posted on 6 December 2018 @ 3:33 pm

Originally posted on 6 December 2018 @ 3:33 pm