Surfaceskins Ltd, a company part owned by University of Leeds spin off, NIRI (Nonwovens Innovation and Research Institute Ltd) believes the latest trial, conducted in hospital theaters over six months with results published in the Journal of Hospital Infection, is a watershed moment for the company, as it shows that, in addition to the potential to eliminate doors as a source of hand contamination, Surfaceskins can also have an additional infection control benefit by improving hand hygiene awareness and compliance.
“We at Surfaceskins have always been confident of the vital role Surfaceskins will play in infection control by eliminating cross contamination on doors and door handles, but we now know they also provide a positive impact on hand hygiene compliance,” states company CEO Brian Waligora. “Now this study has proven our initial thoughts, the combined infection control benefits will make Surfaceskins a consideration for any environment that is serious about infection control.”
The study was a collaboration between Surfaceskins Ltd and a leading global gel provider and was conducted in one of the largest private hospitals in Leeds. Surfaceskins were placed on doors leading to two identical operating theaters, while electronically monitored gel dispensers were positioned outside each external operating theater door. During the eight-week period when Surfaceskins were present on the doors, hand gel usage rose by 81%. Mark Wilcox, professor of Medical Microbiology at the University of Leeds and consultant / head of Microbiology Research and Development at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, evaluated the data and published the results in the Journal of Hospital Infection (Volume 103, Issue 1, September 2019).
“I was impressed that Surfaceskins led to a marked improvement in hand hygiene, particularly as we were evaluating this in a clinical setting” states Professor Wilcox. “I have always been confident that Surfaceskins can be a useful adjunct to routine hand hygiene practice in healthcare environments, and potentially in other settings (e.g. washrooms, restaurants) where frequent contact with doors could undermine infection prevention practice."
A previous laboratory-based study performed in 2017 had already demonstrated that Surfaceskins were effective against common nosocomial or healthcare associated pathogens. That study, also published in the Journal of Hospital Infection, demonstrated Surfaceskins effectiveness against Staphylococcus aureus, feline calicivirus (surrogate for human norovirus), Enterococcus faecalis, Escherichia coli and Salmonella.
“Nobody likes touching a dirty door,” claims Waligora. “Whether you are leaving a public rest room, near food preparation or visiting a hospital or doctor’s office, you don’t want to be touching a frequently touched surface, like a door, when such sites are likely to be contaminated by previous hands. However, this becomes especially important when near vulnerable people such as the elderly, the young or the ill. Healthcare associated infections (HAIs) can be serious and potentially life-threatening, and so practical measures to reduce their risk should be considered.”
Six percent of all patients will contract a HAI during their stay in hospital. This leads to an enormous health burden to the NHS, reportedly costing £1 billion per annum, primarily due to prolonged hospital stays, but also contributes to an approximate 4000 deaths per annum. These HAI rates are similar throughout developed countries and increase significantly in underdeveloped countries like Africa and the far east.
“Surfaceskins was designed with hospitals in mind, but since marketing the product, we have realised that the combined benefits can only help in reducing needless infections to patients, staff and visitors in many establishments around the world. In fact, there is a much bigger market with nearly every public door being a potential opportunity to prevent hand contamination.”
Surfaceskins continues to generate interest from all over the globe. Currently, they have several countries ranging from the U.K., Far East, Middle East, Africa and South America signed to distribution agreements totaling in excess of three million in future sales (over three years). In order to keep up with demand, Surfaceskins are currently considering another round of funding.