Keep it clean. Often easier said than done. Recently, efforts to improve disinfection and sterilization in healthcare facilities were spurred by Medicare reimbursement cuts to hospitals along with new guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Despite the renewed focus, in 2011 there were still 721,800 cases of Healthcare-Acquired Infections (HAIs) with 75,000 deaths.
Lots of work remains to be done to reach disinfection and sterilization standards
As it stands, only 30 percent to 38 percent of U.S. hospitals are in full compliance with the CDC’s current infection control guidelines. 100 percent compliance is a reasonable goal, but there remains a sizeable gap to close. Getting there starts with the creation of reliable, affordable and easily obtainable antimicrobial products so healthcare providers can better-prevent device-associated infections.
Antimicrobial coatings vs. homogenous antimicrobial materials
While antimicrobial coatings may be an attractive option for some applications, they have their shortcomings. Coatings are often limited in efficacy to the surface of the device, not to mention the uniformity of their application must be closely monitored during a secondary, and often costly, manufacturing process. On the other hand, homogenous antimicrobial materials are effective immediately out of the mold or die and retain their efficacy even when damaged or abraded.
Parker has overcome many of the polymer processing limitations that have traditionally plagued antimicrobial compounds. Our elastomers with select antimicrobials additives have shown excellent antimicrobial efficacy (99.99 percent) and biocompatibility while maintaining virtually all mechanical properties and processing capabilities.
What to consider when designing medical devices
Device manufacturers are encouraged to be as specific as possible when providing their initial design parameters. Antimicrobial polymers are available in several HAI-resistant applications, including vascular access, fluid management, instrument housing, airway management, laparoscopy, wound dressings, Class I, II, and III medical devices and more. Beyond the functionality requirements of a given device, consideration should be put into how damp the end-use environment will be, how long a device will be used, and what color/transparency/translucency requirements a device may have. Discussing as much as possible up-front allows for a quicker development stage and better, more cost-effective results overall.
Parker provides several solutions for medical device and component manufacturers
- Customize antimicrobial polymers for your device’s preferred base polymers, aesthetics and functionality.
- Retain virtually all mechanical and physical properties of conventional (non-antimicrobial) polymers.
- Choose between silver (wide medical industry acceptance) and non-silver (similar efficacy to silver with less cost and less discoloration) based antimicrobial additives.
- Avoid predictable costly issues before they occur with thermoplastic molding simulation and virtual prototype evaluation.
- Reduce time-to-market:
- Start your device design process with polymers that have proven ISO 22196 antimicrobial efficacy and ISO 10993 biocompatibility.
- Receive finished antimicrobial components from Parker’s ISO 13485 certified production facilities, ready for integration into your medical devices.
Not only are HAIs costly to healthcare providers, many of them are preventable with the right antimicrobial devices. With so much room for improvement in HAI prevention, now is the perfect time to become an industry leader and join with Parker to create safer healthcare devices and environments.
This article was contributed by Saman Nanayakkara, Division Laboratory Manager and Sr. Chemist, Parker Hannifin Medical Systems Division.
If you would like to speak with our team directly, Parker will be at the MD&M West Conference and Exposition, Booth 2413, February 7-9, 2017 at the Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, California.