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Cable management with a silver lining!

Suzanne Gill spoke to Marshall Tufflex about the benefits offered by cable management solutions that include an antimicrobial additive, particularly in healthcare applications

Cable management with a silver lining!

Modern healthcare is all about choices, with patients having the legal right to choose which hospital their GP refers them to for assessment, and possible treatment, by a specialist consultant. What may be difficult to find for comparison, however, is reference to hospitals stepping up their infection control measures not only to encompass rigorous cleaning and personal hygiene regimes, but also to include investment in specialist building materials proven to kill some of the most virulent and dangerous bacteria found in hospitals and health-care related environments.

Products such as trunking systems, door handles and light switches can all be treated with a silver ion-based antimicrobial additive to help prevent the spread of bugs such as MRSA, Klebsiella Pneumonia, E-Coli and Salmonella.

A study carried out comparing two wards - one equipped with a range of antimicrobial products and the other with standard products - showed that as well as reducing bacteria counts by 95% or more on the antimicrobial products, bacteria counts on untreated surfaces within the ‘antimicrobial’ ward were on average more than 40% lower.

There is no nationwide policy on the specification of antimicrobial building products – individual trusts are left to make their own decisions. Confusingly, some trusts even have disparity within their own organisations. Marshall Tufflex feels that, with no one organisation or person taking responsibility for considering antimicrobial products, a massive opportunity to reduce the risk of cross infection is being missed.

And then there is the issue of cleaning. One argument against the use of bug-busting building materials is that cleaning operatives will not work as effectively if they know these systems are installed. We wonder why that should be the case. If the job profile states that the cleaning team should clean surfaces once every 24 hours, then it is not a matter for discussion and surely it is better to install antimicrobial materials whatever the case, thereby adding another line of defence?

It is frustrating that more healthcare facilities are not being equipped with these effective products. Of course, there is a cost implication, but it fades into insignificance when you consider that the National Audit Office calculated that hospital acquired infections cost the NHS up to £1 billion per year and affect some 9% of hospital patients at any one time.

How it works
The science behind these systems revolves around the use of silver ions, which is incorporated into the PVC-U of its Bio Trunking solutions range. The ions stop bacteria reproducing. If someone carrying MRSA, E-Coli or Salmonella, for example, touches the treated PVC-U, bacteria transferred to it begins to die, minimising the risk of cross contamination. On untreated products, the harmful bacteria flourish.

Anti-microbial cable management systems come in two variants:
 The silver-based formulation is added to the PVC-U during manufacture, ensuring that it is evenly distributed throughout the product. Should the trunking get scratched, the active agent continues to do its job.
 The silver-based formulation is applied to the surface of the cable containment – typically on metal trunking systems. However, once this coating is scratched, germs can penetrate the surface layer of these products and breed unchecked.

Anyone considering the use of an anti-microbial system should confirm that it is registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and compliant with the European Biocidal Products Directive (BPD). All Marshall-Tufflex Bio systems have been tested to the standard ISO22196:2007 which is quantitative standard and the results show that the survival rate of the bacteria tested is less than 0.1%.

The guaranteed lifetime antimicrobial performance of Marshall-Tufflex’s Odyssey Bio Trunking solution, and its good looks, were major considerations for its use in a refurbishment project at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

Aberdeen-based building services engineers CCDP LLP specified the system for the hospital’s in-patient and out-patient radiology departments, which were upgraded to host the hospital’s new PACS system (Picture Archiving and Communication System). Triple compartment Odyssey Bio was installed at dado level (with some vertical risers) to deliver power and data to work stations.
Explaining the company’s decision, Niall Wood, electrical associate with CCDP, said: “A lot of our clients like the Odyssey profile because, being completely curved, it is an aesthetically pleasing system. Being able to specify Odyssey with an antimicrobial function was an obvious benefit given its ability to prevent cross-infection. Because the antimicrobial agent is an integral part of the PVC-U, we know that the effectiveness of the system will not be compromised by scratches and will not rub off.”

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