Role of stainless steel in hospitals highlighted in new study

The vital role played by stainless steel in maintaining the sanitary environment of operating theatres and hospitals has been highlighted in a new study by World Steel Association.

Shaukat Mohammed | TNN
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VIJAYAWADA: The vital role played by stainless steel in maintaining the sanitary environment of operating theatres and hospitals has been highlighted in a new study by World Steel Association, or worldsteel.

Setting the context for the study, commissioned by worldsteel and conducted by the Manchester Metropolitan University and AgroParisTech, it says that the World Health Organization lists Healthcare (or Hospital) Acquired Infections (HAIs) as the most frequent adverse effect in healthcare delivery, affecting hundreds of millions of patients worldwide every year. HAIs are defined as infections affecting patients in a hospital or healthcare facility which were not present or incubating at the time of admission.

“In the context of growing antibiotic resistance, it has never been more important to ensure that surfaces and objects in all patient areas can be easily cleaned and disinfected. Stainless steel has played a key role in clinical safety in hospitals for many decades. It is chemically inert, non-toxic and can be manufactured into smooth, non-absorbent surfaces which can be thoroughly cleaned, disinfected and sterilized safely without degradation or corrosion,” the study says. .

According to the study, in the late 19th century, Joseph Lister was developing practical applications of the germ theory of disease in relation to ensuring sanitary medical settings. His pioneering aseptic surgery techniques – which involved combating infection by spraying surfaces, implements, and even patients, with corrosive carbolic acid – paved the way for modern medical practices.

“It wouldn’t be until 1913, however, that a crucial invention would allow for patients to undergo medical treatment in reliably sanitary environments. The many properties of this invention – stainless steel – has led to it being used in a number applications across a variety of healthcare facilities.

“Stainless steel’s role in maintaining clinical safety cannot be underestimated. Non-toxic, chemically inert, and with non-absorbent properties, stainless steel can be safely sterilised without any corrosion or degradation,” it says.

The study aimed to test the effectiveness of both new and old surfaces, with a “cycle of fouling and cleaning” developed to simulate ageing. The study took the two grades of stainless steel most commonly found in hospitals and contaminated both new and aged samples with bacteria.

These bacteria, which cause the majority of (HAIs), were Staphylococcus aureus, which is responsible for food poisoning and localised infections, and can even sometimes be fatal. The second, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, is highly prevalent, very resistant and difficult to treat.

“Both sets of samples were cleaned, with the disinfectant shown to be 99.9% effective against Staphylococcus aureus and 97.6% effective against Pseudomonas aeruginosa. There was also no discernible difference in effectiveness between the new or aged stainless steel,” the study says.

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