Squeaky clean hospital, narrow squeak in surgery

Ballet in a box
Escaping germs is always a close squeak

A simple operation.

Routine, routine, routine.

Except there’s nothing routine in cutting your body open and sewing up a few repairs.

Invasive surgery they call it. Like being carved up on the battlefield, but under anaesthetic.

Always a risk

Yes, it saves lives – in this case, yours.

But all the time your body is at hazard, and it’s only the skills of the experts that keep you alive.

Not just experts with a scalpel either.

The mop and bucket brigade are also keeping you from death.

Because of the germs.

Billions and billions of viruses and bacteria floating around all of us every day – in the air around our bodies, in our homes – and in the hospital where they’re going to do the op.

Hospital battlefield

It IS a battlefield too – right across the consulting room, the operating theatre, the recovery room and the observation ward. A constant war to prevent infection getting into your cut. The cut that saved your life, but could still kill you if the germs get in.

HAIs they call them – Hospital Acquired Infections. And you might wonder how such disasters are possible if medical professionals are doing their job properly.

The truth is that they are – to higher standards than any other occupation. If the world ran to the demanding requirements of the medical profession, we’d all be living in perfection.

Thing is though, that HAIs are not just a medical issue. They’re a hygiene one.
There are more people in hospital with cuts and tubes and wires into their bodies than anywhere else. And every breach in the body defences is a chance for germs to slip in.

Stopping them is next to impossible. Like the air we all breathe, they’re a fact of life.

Anti-antibiotics

Which is why post-op, you drift out of the anaesthetic pumped full of antibiotics.

No significant surgery of any kind is possible without them. The germs are so pervasive and fast, every patient would die on the operating table.

Which makes every hospital a war-zone. A constant onslaught against viruses and bacteria – hostile organisms so small they’re invisible – you can never tell whether they’re there or not.

But count on it, they always are.

So hospitals don’t just need to be clean and KEPT clean. They need a special kind of clean. Because the enemy is everywhere – on surfaces, furniture, drapes, skin and clothing. Swirling through the air too. If you’ve ever watched minute motes of dust floating in sunlight, you’ll understand.

A hospital is a huge place too – requiring a monumental effort to keep clean.

Doing it all to the same standard is impossible, but this is where miracles happen every day.

They need them too.

Antibiotics are vital to saving your life – but fifty years of depending on them more and more has led to overuse. Result – mutating bacteria have found a way to become resistant to them too.

So HAIs are increasingly in the news. Today the No 1 villain is MRSA – Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus – the surgeon’s nightmare. The No 2 is Clostridium Difficile.

You will be tested for both repeatedly – before, during and after your procedure. Between them they kill around 2,000 people a year in the UK, just these two.

Against the enemy

Fortunately you’re not totally dependant on Mrs Mop to keep you safe. Hospital cleaning is science and there’s more to it than disinfectant and detergent.

Operating theatres have HEPA filters – High-Efficiency Particulate Air scrubbers so fine they can remove 99.97% of particles down to 0.03 of a micron – a single MRSA cell is 0.06.

Increasingly, ultra violet light is used too. In high intensity pulses generated in the short-wave UV-C band, the light attacks viruses and bacteria by destroying their DNA. All germs within range are dead in around ten minutes.

Hydrogen peroxide is even more effective. No shadows, no “dead” areas. Misted up into a super-fine ionised spray it reaches everywhere, drawn by static charge. Germs are destroyed by oxidising them – ripped apart by oxygen atoms and destroyed down to just 1 microorganism in a million.

Yes, your surgery is a serious thing, but your body will pull through – the doctors and nurses will make sure of it. Your narrow escape is in avoiding the germs – always a risk, even with defences in place.

A squeak you’ll be glad to be out of.

Originally posted on 3 August 2018 @ 7:31 am

Open wide… no chance of infection here

Dental checkup

No chance any infection will get you while you’re here

Terrified of the dentist? You shouldn’t be. These days it doesn’t hurt – and when your mouth feels healthy, so do you.

Unless you’re worried about infection of course. That Nottingham dentist did nothing for anyone’s confidence.

Strictly come clean

But your own dentist has strict hygiene rules to follow – and you can bet he does. With around 20 billion oral microbes living in your mouth – more than the number of people living on earth – no way he’s taking chances.

If you think about it, a dentist’s surgery is like a hospital operating room, so some basic rules apply:

  • All surfaces are disinfected between patients.
  • Hands are washed and new gloves pulled on between patients.
  • All instruments are heat-sterilised between patients.

UV in the OR

Plus, after the Nottingham case, you might notice your dentist has a new toy. A schnazzy new ultra violet light generator.

Because in a hospital you personally get prepped before any operation – cleaned, disinfected, sterilised – made safe.

But dental patients walk in straight off the street. And every single one of us wears an aura of at least 3 million viruses and bacteria all the time – every one of them looking for a way into our bodies to start their mischief.

OK, so you’re at the dentist.

Then what happens? Your dental operation starts bang, straight away.

But you’re still in your street clothes, with slush on your shoes, no opportunity to wash your hands – you touch the dentist’s chair, the armrest and maybe something else – what sort of things are you bringing in for the next patient to run the risk of?

Well, none.

NONE.

Because you’ll notice that when the patient before you comes out, so do the dentist and the nurse –they don’t want to be exposed and things are about to happen in there.

Death ray for germs

They close the door. The dentist presses a remote control – not for catch-up TV, but for the ultra violet generator.

ZAP!

Inside the surgery the machine goes into action, blitzing every germ dead  – in the air, on surfaces – destroying their DNA by irradiation. Pumping out high intensity ultra violet light in the shortwave C spectrum, pulsed in concentrated flashes to minimise human exposure.

5 minutes and it’s safe. The room is sterile. No germs for you to catch except those you brought with you. And you’ve survived the day so far, ain’t nothing going to happen now.

You go into the surgery with the dentist and nurse. No germs, no nothing, the whole room is 99.999% free of them – what they call Sterility Assurance Level 5 (ever so posh).

Still worried about the dentist?

Don’t be.

If you’ve ever had raging toothache at 4.00 in the morning, you’ll know he’s on your side.