Infection control stands as a cornerstone of modern healthcare systems, safeguarding patients, healthcare professionals, and the community at large. By implementing comprehensive and rigorous measures to prevent and manage infections, healthcare facilities not only ensure the well-being of individuals but also contribute to overall public health. Among the various measures employed to combat the spread of infections, the use of disinfectants stands out as an indispensable component. Disinfectants, through their ability to neutralize or eliminate harmful microorganisms, contribute significantly to maintaining a clean and hygienic environment in healthcare facilities.
Scientific Sanitation Solutions (Scisan), managing director, Victor Adendorff, asks if we are using the best available disinfectants in healthcare?
Disinfectants are vital tools in the prevention and control of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). These infections pose a significant threat to patient well-being, prolong hospital stays, increase healthcare costs, and, in severe cases, can lead to fatalities. By effectively destroying or inhibiting the growth of pathogenic microorganisms, disinfectants reduce the risk of HAIs and promote a safer healthcare environment.
What to look for in effective disinfectants?
Improving disinfectants is essential for enhancing infection control measures in various settings. Advances in spectrum of activity, persistence, environmental compatibility, delivery systems, synergy with other measures, and rapid-acting formulations can collectively contribute to more effective disinfection protocols. By investing in research and innovation, we have developed disinfectants that offer superior performance, reduce the spread of infections, and protect public health in an increasingly interconnected world. So, what do we mean by these terms and what innovations are at play in the disinfectant world?
1. Enhanced spectrum of activity
Effective disinfectants should possess a broad spectrum of activity to combat a wide range of microorganisms. Scientists and researchers can focus on developing disinfectants that target multiple pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa. By expanding the spectrum of activity, disinfectants can offer comprehensive protection against a variety of infectious agents, reducing the risk of cross-contamination and outbreaks. Those making decisions about infection control and ordering new disinfectants need to ensure disinfectants have a broad spectrum of activity.
2. Increased persistence and residual efficacy
One critical improvement in disinfectants lies in enhancing their persistence on surfaces and residual efficacy over time. Traditional disinfectants may lose their effectiveness shortly after application, requiring frequent reapplication. By formulating disinfectants with prolonged persistence, they can provide longer-lasting protection against microbial colonisation, reducing the need for repeated application and minimising the risk of infection transmission.
3. Advanced environmental compatibility
As society becomes more environmentally conscious, there is a growing demand for disinfectants that are eco-friendly and sustainable. Researchers should focus on developing disinfectants that are biodegradable, non-toxic to humans and animals, and have minimal impact on ecosystems. Innovations in green chemistry can pave the way for environmentally compatible disinfectants without compromising their antimicrobial efficacy.
4. Innovative delivery systems
The effectiveness of disinfectants can be further improved by developing innovative delivery systems. For example, incorporating disinfectants into nanotechnology-based carriers or encapsulating them in polymers can enhance their stability, control release, and target specific areas. These advancements enable better penetration into hard-to-reach surfaces, increase contact time, and enhance disinfection efficacy, especially in complex healthcare settings.
5. Synergy with other infection control measures
Disinfectants should be designed to complement other infection control measures, such as hand hygiene and surface cleaning. Integration of disinfectants with antimicrobial coatings, engineered materials, or self-cleaning surfaces can create synergistic effects, providing a multi-layered defence against microbial contamination. Such innovations can reduce the reliance on a single intervention and enhance overall infection control effectiveness.
6. Rapid-Acting formulations
In certain situations, rapid disinfection is paramount. Developing disinfectants with quick action and minimal contact time can be invaluable, particularly in high-risk environments such as healthcare facilities or during disease outbreaks. Rapid-acting formulations would allow for efficient disinfection without compromising efficacy, ensuring prompt control of pathogens and reducing the potential for transmission.
New innovations: The future of disinfectants
Healthcare facilities must carefully select disinfectants based on their efficacy against the most common and clinically significant pathogens encountered in healthcare settings. However, most consumers are unaware of the many ways in which disinfectants can harm one’s health. By their very nature, all chemical disinfectants are potentially harmful or toxic to living organisms, including humans. While disinfectants are intended to protect us from getting sick, they’re a bit of a double-edged sword. Many disinfectants contain volatile organic compounds, known as VOCs, which have been known to cause chronic respiratory and other health related problems. They can also trigger allergies and asthma, cause cancer and autoimmune diseases and damage one’s skin.
There are new solutions to this problem though. SANI-99 ™, for example, is a powerful, world-first medical grade and eco-friendly disinfectant that has been developed to target and kill pathogens. Completely free of either alcohol and chlorine, which along with its extraordinary efficacy, potency and safety – this disinfectant that can be used on any hard surface or as a hand sanitizer. It is almost 2,000 times more potent than concentrated (undiluted) bleach (per million pathogens) and infinitely safer as well as being longer lasting than standard disinfectants.
As has been discussed above, there are many aspects to look at when choosing new disinfectant products but efficacy, increased lasting effect, plus safety, we believe make SANI-99 ™ one to watch for the NHS and wider worldwide healthcare industry.
In conclusion, disinfectants play an indispensable role in healthcare by preventing the spread of infections, ensuring the safety of patients and healthcare workers, and maintaining a clean and hygienic environment. Their effectiveness in neutralizing harmful microorganisms and reducing the risk of healthcare-associated infections is crucial for promoting better patient outcomes. By incorporating stringent disinfection protocols, healthcare facilities can enhance patient care, instil public confidence, and create a safer environment for everyone involved in the delivery of healthcare services and by looking at the ways in which disinfectants should be chosen and utilizing new advances in disinfectants people can be better protected.
Scientific Sanitation Solutions