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Modern life is also creating new challenges for the medical industry. Every day, medical professionals risk healthcare-associated infections from increasingly antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. Additionally, doctors and nurses can sometimes act as vectors for disease transmission, carrying dangerous bacteria on their hands, equipment and even their uniforms. This is especially problematic in sensitive environments, such as those that treat immuno-compromised patients or in surgical settings.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, individuals who become infected with antimicrobial-resistant strains of bacteria are more likely to have longer hospital stays and may also be more likely to die from infection. Indeed, an estimated 99,000 people die each year in the United States as a result of healthcare-associated infections. Furthermore, certain infections, such as those caused by Acinetobacter and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), occur most frequently in, and are sometimes exclusive to, healthcare settings and are becoming more prevalent. A recent study conducted by researchers in Israel found that over 60 percent of medical uniforms carried potential pathogens, and up to 14 percent carried antibiotic-resistant bacteria. These menacing strains of bacteria are even showing up in unexpected settings, such as dental schools.
To combat healthcare-associated infections, some states are passing laws that require hospitals to report infections, and Medicare is now withholding two percent of payments from hospitals that don’t. Hospitals are feeling the pressure and are taking measures to cut their infection rates. For many of these hospitals, scrubs and other uniform items have become a major target of infection-reduction efforts, creating a new opportunity for uniform manufacturers.
One such manufacturer is New York-based XY Scrubs, founded by surgery resident Todd Ruiter last April. Ruiter had initially set out to create a fashion-forward line of scrubs for men but soon broadened his focus to include antimicrobial fabric technology. “As a surgery resident, I was dealing with this problem every day, as healthcare-associated infections really are becoming an epidemic in this country,” Ruiter explains. “It’s my belief, as a physician and surgery resident with ten years’ experience, that all textiles used in patient care in the hospitals will, in the near future, employ antimicrobials as a way to fight or limit the spread of HAIs.”
Ruiter researched antimicrobials and eventually chose a unique finish created by Dow Chemical Co., now trademarked as XY Defend. This finish, unlike other chemical treatments, is permanently bound to the fabric and will not wash away. Most unique is the way in which XY Defend interacts with bacteria. The finish, says Ruiter, “kills microbes by physically disrupting their architecture, literally shearing the microbe apart on contact, and therefore, it has not been shown to select for any resistance over 25 years of testing and application in consumer goods.”
Ruiter believes this level of constant protection from germs to be ideal. “If a majority of our scrubs will be harboring pathogenic bacteria by the end of a day’s work, the possibility for passing the germs along between patients throughout the day certainly exists. Antimicrobial treatments on hospital textiles, such as our XY Defend, may play a role in preventing this,” he says.
It’s a dangerous world, and those who find themselves on the frontlines of danger must take special precautions to protect themselves as they serve others. It’s up to uniform manufacturers and retailers to stay abreast of the risks that their end-users and customers face and the ways in which their products can protect them. While uniformed professionals dodge bullets, bacteria and blazes, it’s the uniform industry that can help strengthen their defenses.
Read the entire Article from Made to Measure Magazine Here
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