Optimising protective operating theatre clothing in terms of comfort and durability enables significant amounts of waste to be avoided and valuable resources saved. Find out here whether you too could benefit from the improved market potential of reusable protective clothing.
More comfortable, more environmentally friendly
For every patient and day in hospital, about 3.2 kg of textiles that need to be professionally disposed of are generated. Optimising reusable operating theatre clothing can significantly help to reduce waste. © Kzenon/Shutterstock
A current research project sponsored by the German Federation of Industrial Research Associations and running until the start of 2016 is working on developing innovative reusable operating theatre textiles which are more comfortable to wear and at the same time more durable because they can be cleaned in a gentler process.
With this project, the wfk – Cleaning Technology Institute e.V. and the Hohenstein Institute are complying with the requirements of the Closed Cycle and Waste Management Act (KrWG) and also increasing the competitiveness of the German textile industry.
The KrWG, as implemented in the Waste Framework Directive RL 2008/98/EC, has been part of German law since 2012. The reform states that, in order to avoid waste, materials should remain in the production cycle for as long as possible. However, in health care, and especially in hospitals, the trend is in the opposite direction.
In the interests of ease of handling, guaranteed sterility at all times and – apparently – cost considerations, the proportion of disposable operating theatre clothing that is used in hospitals is increasing all the time. The resulting waste amounts to about 3.2 kg of textiles per patient per day which have to be disposed of correctly, equating to an annual mountain of waste of about 1200 kg for every hospital bed.
Medical textiles such as bed covers and operating theatre clothing are classed as licensed medical products and are subject to all kinds of textile technology requirements under the European DIN EN 13795 standard. These include, for example, mechanical resistance, microbiological purity and a barrier effect against fluids. These numerous standards, designed to ensure the safety of the wearer, mean that the thermophysiological wearing comfort of operating theatre clothing, and especially of disposable clothing, is a secondary consideration.
To offset the relatively high procurement cost of reusable protective clothing, it must be able to withstand about 50 to 70 cycles of use and reprocessing. Consequently, the wearing comfort of reusable textiles always suffers – yet comfort is precisely the characteristic for which, in addition to environmental performance, they are superior to disposable textiles.
In the light of this problem, this joint research project is developing innovative reusable operating theatre textiles which offer not only greater comfort but also an extended service life. In the project, the Hohenstein Institute is optimising the materials used for reusable protective textiles to ensure the best possible thermophysiological wearing characteristics.
The research team led by Dr. Bianca-Michaela Wölfling is currently studying the operating theatre clothing that is available on the market with regard to its textile technology and clothing physiology properties. They are looking especially at the interaction between body, climate and clothing, since an imbalance between the production and the transport of body heat not only makes the surgeon and operating theatre team feel less comfortable as they work, but can also impair their alertness and performance. Studies are being carried out using both the Hohenstein Skin Model and volunteers in a climate-controlled chamber, in a range of realistic conditions. Proposals for how operating theatre textiles could be further developed will be produced on the basis of the research results.
At the same time, the wfk is researching cleaning processes which would minimise the thermal and mechanical wear on the protective textiles in order to extend their working life. To make sure that their work is also resource-efficient, the researchers are focusing on pre-activated disinfectant systems and enzymes which are particularly active even at low temperatures.
The reduction in the washing temperature and the mechanical stresses, together with specially developed cleaning and disinfecting routines, have resulted in an innovative cleaning process. Firstly, it enables the protective and thermophysiological textile functions to be preserved better than under the current method. Secondly, it results in an improvement of about 25% in the lifespan of reusable operating theatre textiles.
To sum up, this research partnership is creating better market opportunities for reusable protective clothing in hospitals. It is also ensuring compliance with the KrWG by avoiding waste in the textile medical product sector. The innovative reusable protective textiles offer both improved wearing comfort and a longer service life thanks to resource-efficient cleaning processes. However, in addition to the ecological benefits, the economic benefits of the research project should not be overlooked. Expanding the market for reusable operating theatre textiles increases international competitiveness and so helps to safeguard jobs in the German textile industry. At the same time, hospitals can potentially save about 12.9 million euros as a result of the extended usability of protective textiles.
Andrea Höra | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Flying: Efficiency thanks to Lightweight Air Nozzles
23.10.2017 | Technische Universität Chemnitz
Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer
20.10.2017 | Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
Salmonellae are dangerous pathogens that enter the body via contaminated food and can cause severe infections. But these bacteria are also known to target...
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
23.10.2017 | Event News
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
23.10.2017 | Life Sciences
23.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.10.2017 | Health and Medicine